Book Reviews

Mayhem // Brayburn lady coming for you

MayhemMayhem by Estelle Laure

My rating: 3 of 5 stars




A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

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 a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.


ARC provided by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an honest review. All quotes are subject to change prior to final publication.

Brayburn lady coming for you. Take your man and curse you, too. Brayburn lady knows your sins. Reads your mind and kills your friends.

This was an easy quick read. I have heard that it is a mix of The Craft, Lost Boys, and a bit of Practical Magic, but given that I am a loser and have yet to see those movies, I cannot confirm or deny such.

The story follows teen Mayhem and her mother who just left behind her abusive stepfather in Texas to return to their small family town of Santa Maria, CA. Mayhem has had to step in and take care of her mom, not only from the continuous verbal, mental, and physical abuse of her stepfather, but also for her mother’s drug and alcohol addiction. They arrive to their family home and are greeted by Roxy’s sister Elle and her three adopted children, Neve, Jason, and Kidd. But there’s a mysterious disappearance of teen girls in town, and Mayhem soon discovers she can be essential to solving their disappearances, catching the culprit, and stopping any further disappearances for good. But in order to do so, she will have to accept a long standing curse that has followed all Brayburn women.

When I dare to be powerful…it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

I loved the growth of Mayhem from being this daughter that just protects her mother to someone who finds strength in herself to help others too.
The growth and strength developed between Roxy and Mayhem was so sweet. Roxy finally sees the impact of her addiction on her relationship with Mayhem and chooses to let go of her addictions to be a more present mother. You could feel Mayhem’s pain of not having been able to know her mother for her real self. So when she gets that opportunity, especially at the end, it was really powerful.
I loved the journal entries of the past Brayburn women, and how they used their new given strength from the water.
Neve was such an awesome character. I loved that she saw the opportunity she was given from the powers of the water, and she wanted to use it to rid the world of bad people. She struck me as such an awesome Slytherin.

There were somethings I just had a hard time wrapping my mind around given their lack of explanation. All women in the Brayburn family are called to this cave where a magical water is found that can give them the strength to see the dark side of people and the dark secrets they hide. They have the ability to basically eat away the soul of these people that they find evil, but at a cost. They become heavily addicted to the water and cannot go a day without consuming it. Should anyone non-Brayburn blood consume this water, it can have dire consequences, such as driving them to insanity or suicide. But somehow the water makes them connected to crows or see themselves as crows which I honestly could not understand.
I wanted more development of Neve, Jason, and Kidd. I felt the beginning dragged a bit, so when things started to pick up, when there was a development of relationships with the three kids and Mayhem, it was barely touched.
There was so much potential for greater use of Mayhem’s new strength but it was not given the needed pages of it. I felt there could have been more scenes of her using it against bad people. Even when Neve branched out alone, there was not enough.

I found the truth of me.

There were some awesome parts to this book that kept me involved with the story, but it was the constant want for more answers, more information, that I had to give it a 3.

TW/CW: abuse, drugs, alcohol, death, kidnapping, mention of rape


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