On My Bookshelf: Mayhem by Estelle Laure

April 13, 2020

Mayhem by Estelle Laure throws you right into the mess of Brayburn mysteries and even by the end, you are just beginning to feel like you are on solid ground again. Mayhem and her mother, Roxy, have just returned to her mother's hometown, Santa Maria, California, to escape and abusive stepfather/husband. If Mayhem's mother was looking for a safe haven, Santa Maria isn't it; there's a serial killer stalking young women on the town's beaches. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.
The basic plot from Amazon: The Lost Boys meets Wilder Girls in this supernatural feminist YA novel.

It's 1987 and unfortunately it's not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy's constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem's own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren't like everyone else.

But when May's stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem's questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.

But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Mayhem by Estelle Laure throws you right into the mess of Brayburn mysteries and even by the end, you are just beginning to feel like you are on solid ground again. Mayhem and her mother, Roxy, have just returned to her mother's hometown, Santa Maria, California, to escape and abusive stepfather/husband. If Mayhem's mother was looking for a safe haven, Santa Maria isn't it; there's a serial killer stalking young women on the town's beaches. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.
Why I liked it: Mayhem throws you right into the mess of Brayburn mysteries and even by the end, you are just beginning to feel like you are on solid ground again. Mayhem and her mother, Roxy, have just returned to her mother's hometown, Santa Maria, California, to escape and abusive stepfather/husband. If Mayhem's mother was looking for a safe haven, Santa Maria isn't it; there's a serial killer stalking young women on the town's beaches.

Mayhem soon learns that about the strange powers of the women in her family lineage from a book she finds tucked away in her family's house and the three adrift children her aunt has taken in. Letters and diary entries from the book Mayhem discovers break up the first person narration of Mayhem  and help give clarity to the powers of the Brayburn women and the dangers of those powers.

Despite the whirlwind of strange discoveries about Santa Maria and herself, Mayhem feels happy for the first time in a long time, and more importantly, finally begin to feel like she is coming into her own, making choices for herself and emerging from her mother's shadow and demons. She has friends, extended family, and a first love, balanced with a first kill and an end to her stepfather's power over her and her mother.

Classroom application: I would recommend this one for high school and up because of the sensitive content: rape, abuse, murder. There's a note at the start of the book about this content as well as a letter from the author. Students who enjoy thrillers like Sadie by Courtney Summers, the supernatural, and realistic fantasy will enjoy this one.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Mayhem for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Mayhem by Estelle Laure throws you right into the mess of Brayburn mysteries and even by the end, you are just beginning to feel like you are on solid ground again. Mayhem and her mother, Roxy, have just returned to her mother's hometown, Santa Maria, California, to escape and abusive stepfather/husband. If Mayhem's mother was looking for a safe haven, Santa Maria isn't it; there's a serial killer stalking young women on the town's beaches. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.


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