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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.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published July 14, 2020

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About the author

Estelle Laure

19 books557 followers
Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 553 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
July 10, 2020
I think I’m gonna express my feelings briefly this time. I’m giving Switzerland stars to this book! ( which means 2.5 stars rounded up 3 and I gave more points because I enjoyed the promising and exciting start and idea of feminist mash-up of Lost Boys and Craft but as far as I saw that was just the idea because what I read was way too much different than I expected!)

Yes, I could give 2 stars this book but I became generous grader and gave half stars more. But I have to emphasize two things about this book really pissed me off:

1) When I read a book I’m open to see the references and small similarities with movies or other books. I also enjoy reading retellings even though most classics’ retellings disappointed me lately (especially new versions of Jane Austen’s novels) But this book didn’t have similarities or references. It feels like it is copy-pasted from the original screenplay of Lost Boys (even some quotes, the events, two brothers’ fashion style, the way of talking, the locations are exactly the same with the movie! And as a great fan of movie, I didn’t like this semi-changed new version!) I couldn’t find any similarities with Craft! This book is way too much bloodier, wild and harsh!

2) Pacing was too slow and at the second half: there are obvious changes about the characters ( They mostly acted like their bodies were taken over by their evil twins. I actually thought maybe the author’s body is conquered by body snatchers and another author finished the story she started.

I don’t want to draw a pessimistic picture about the book. Especially you haven’t seen the movie and you get used to read slow pacing supernatural stories, this book could be a great fit for you. Mostly the writing style and dialogues were good and you may sense the author has potential and great creative skills but I wish there weren’t so many similarities with the movie. You don’t want to read the another version when there is a classic YA horror. You want to get the original taste!

I still want to read her next works because at least she chose one of the best movies to be inspired. And from the word choices and dialogue developments, I’m so sure I’ll like her next works more than this one.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for sharing this interesting ARC with me in exchange my honest review.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,438 reviews78k followers
April 23, 2020
This is tough, because I loved what the author was trying to do here, but Mayhem begs the question of how much material can you pull from an original story and be considered a retelling, versus plagiarism? Many early reviewers have already stated exact replications from Lost Boys, which took away from the nostalgia and gave a certain level of cringe-worthiness to the story. I think if the author had chosen to create more of her own, unique characters, and ramped up the pacing a bit in the first half of the book, then this could have been a masterpiece. I've heard excellent things about the author's previous books including diverse rep, and I plan on checking those out in the meantime.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.2k followers
July 20, 2020
When I heard the premise of this one (a feminist, female-fronted retelling of the Lost Boys? SIGN ME UP) I was SO excited. I had clearly had pretty high hopes for this one, but this book ended up being really weird and honestly just.. underwhelming? The writing itself was great, but the story as a whole felt like it was all over the place and it didn't work for me the way that I was so hoping it would. I'm interested to read more from Estelle Laure after finishing this, but I don't think that Mayhem was the book for me.

TW: domestic abuse, slut shaming, rape, drug use
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
August 8, 2020
2 1/2 stars. I see what the author was trying to do with this book: the 80s-Stranger-Things vibe, the concept of vigilante justice, the storyline about abuse. I only wish these aspects translated.

This book follows Mayhem, a high school junior who has recently escaped an abusive situation with her mother, Roxy. The two are forced to go to Roxy’s hometown, where they meet her sister, Elle, and her adopted cousins, Jason, Kidd, and Neve. But the hometown has its secrets, including... magic.

To compliment a few things here: Mayhem’s storyline around abuse is a good concept. I appreciated Mayhem’s determination to “become someone who hits”. That was cool! It’s solid and interesting character motivation, if done right.

Two problems here: one, that motivation doesn’t actually explicitly appear until halfway through the book, which is a problem, as it makes the first half feel meandering. And two, her arc never connects to the plot, though it’s clearly intended to. The character beats and the plot beats feel as if they’re meant for two separate books, and Mayhem’s internal monologue is barely there.

On a pure story level, and I think partially as a result of lacking character motivation, the story structure is really really off—the book feels like 70% buildup, a plot conclusion, and then an awkward 20% that has to conclude character beats.

More importantly, the book just never really gives you a reason to care about these characters. Possibly I am just bad with first person POV (we’ve established that), but I just... I feel like this story could’ve taken place with entirely different characters, and nothing would’ve changed. The book doesn’t develop relationships enough for their stress points to actually change anything. When Mayhem tells us that Neve is her best friend, it rings false; when she tells us she loves Jason, I felt nothing.

The storyline with Roxy is similarly frustrating. Roxy is an alcoholic who has made her daughter into her pseudo-parent. That is acknowledged in the book... at about 50%, and I felt the buildup to the moment where Mayhem calls her on it really failed. The book establishes that Mayhem is being treated badly, but not that she knows she’s being treated badly, so her argument with her mother feels oddly out of left field. It also... Roxy is really fucking up a lot here, and I kept expecting the story to really challenge her into changing, and it doesn’t, she just kind of... decides to change.

It’s not bad, per se, it’s just vaguely unsatisfying. The book in summary.

Oh, I also wished this book leaned into the setting and the vibe a bit more. What’s there is good and I wanted more.

I was waffling between giving this two and three stars, because I do see the potential here. I don’t think this is a bad book: it’s well-written, and I liked some of the ideas and concepts. But frankly, I was just... not invested in this book as a whole. I hope others will click with this one more than I did.

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Profile Image for Ivana - Diary of Difference.
559 reviews709 followers
May 12, 2023
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I am so happy to have the opportunity to be part of the blog tour for Mayhem by Estelle Laure. Thank you to the team at Wednesday Books, for sending me an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

Head over to my blog post for an exclusive chapter extract of Mayhem!

About The Author:

Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.


It's 1987 and Mayhem Brayburn has always known something's off about her and her mum, Roxy. Roxy is in constant physical pain, and Mayhem has an irresistible pull to water. She knows they aren't like the other people. 

When one day, Mayhem's stepfather goes one step too far, her and Roxy escape to Santa Maria, California, the beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem's questions about who her mother is. There, she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and she opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage of the Brayburn family. The very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. 

But when she is on a mission to search for a man that has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she needs to pay the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

My Thoughts:

Mayhem by Estelle Laure is one of a kind. Entwined with mystery, magic with family heritage and revenge, this book is full of emotions. 

The beginning of the book, although powerful, is very slow. It took me a little while to get into it, but as soon as I was hooked, it stayed amazing. 

Mayhem is an interesting character. She holds a lot of emotions inside of her, all from past experiences that have shaped her character. Sad to say that most of her experiences were not good, and she holds the burden for it all. I can imagine how hard it must be to write a character as complicated as Mayhem, and I think Estelle Laure did and amazing job doing it. 

I loved the kids as well - each of them different in their own way, battling their own demons and living through their bad experiences in the past. Some of these characters drastically change over the course of the book, which was unbelievable to me.

The magic aspect of this book was interesting, and for me, original. I have seen many reviews mentioning that this might not be true, and it is a very similar story to The Lost Boys. Since I haven't watched The Lost Boys, I am unable to comment on this part. Personally, I really enjoyed the magic concept with the water, the dependency on it and the family heritage part too. 

If you are searching for a YA fantasy thriller, with rich characters and mysterious adventures, I think you will definitely enjoy this book. 

Trigger warnings: rape, assault, murder, drug addiction, magic addiction.

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Profile Image for Monica.
524 reviews161 followers
April 10, 2020
This was a very enjoyable read for me! It was quick and kept me engaged the entire time. Even though it was definitely taken from the Lost Boys story, it had some unique differences.

That being said, I can't give a specific summary, it all felt hazy... I know there were teenagers and magical water and they were saving the town. So if the story were more fleshed out, the book could have been amazing.

*Many thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the advanced reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,491 reviews596 followers
July 27, 2021
"Inspired by Lost Boys & The Craft" is fairly accurate.
I would probably have said it more closely resembled Practical Magic, but that's just me.
Either way it was riveting and hella fun to get sucked into.
Not a huge fan of the ending, but still interested in seeking out more by Estelle Laure.
Thanks to NetGalley & St. Martin's Press for my DRC.

"I have to admit it's cute, though, like watching a baby birdy fly from the nest and turn into a man-eating pterodactyl."
May 18, 2020
I feel Mayhem. Her brokenness. Her journey. Her resolve. I feel Mayhem.

Mayhem is a unique book in which different components in the story defy the borders of the genre in a swoop through contemporary fiction, mystery, and a bit of fantastical.

It's 1987 and Mayhem arrives after a long car ride with her mother Roxy at her aunt's house in Santa Maria, CA. The two of them have fled the abusive relationship of May's stepfather for good, this time.

Roxy could not be more different from her mother as Mayhem observes. After all, they are Brayburn women, a lineage that appears to have made a name for itself in that little coastal town as she finds out.

Mayhem watches her mother struggle with drugs to get "over" her relationship while she tries to keep busy with the kids that live with her aunt. It turns out they are quite a tumultuous bunch who live into the night and sleep most of the day.

Something awful is happening in the town. A girl snatcher is taking young women and there are many unsolved cases of missing girls and killings locally. The gang invites Mayhem to investigate and tell her about certain gifts of women in the Brayburn lineage while a diary in Roxy's house alludes to family secrets that she didn't know about.

It is Roxy's recovery process and the newfound gifts that make Mayhem determined to withstand her stepfather's taunts when he calls and shows up.

A raw and mysterious read that starts with an amazing foreword by the author and ends with a character to root for. This story is unique, quirky, and shockingly sharp. Elements of abuse, domestic violence, drug use, murder, and suicide are included in this story.

Overall I liked this novel. What stood out to me was the deep pain that was innately ingrained into Mayhem and her mother. It is something that only those that have experienced abuse can maybe relate too or depict in the words, but my sensitivity meter kept going off in many places of the novel. Therefore, I want to say that it was very exquisite on the mark in regards to expression and characterization.

The other thing that stood out to me was the California 80's vibe. It was just reeking in the salaciousness of beachgoers, parties, and attitude/style. Talk about biking to events, kids getting into stuff they shouldn't, some romance and angst, some adventure and trying out new things...just the whole deal of teenage freedom and Mayhem being thrown into the mix of it for many firsts.

Throughout the novel, there are diary entry pages to read that elude to some magical gifts of the Brayburn woman and it becomes a transformational tool for Mayhem. This element of magical realism served as a bridge-way to deal with what was going on in her life.

Definitely, a uniquely crafted novel that some say mirrors parts of 'The Lost Boys', but I found there to be only minor similarities.

This book is simply special in its own way.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you so much

More of my reviews here:
Through Novel Time & Distance

Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
927 reviews795 followers
September 1, 2020
3.5 stars

This is kind of an odd review... apologies in advance. (Another case of me, not the book.)

Writing: ★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Enjoyment: ★★

Mayhem had all the ingredients to be a book that I'd enjoy: speculative magic, ocean vibes, female protagonist, witchy vibes, 1980s aesthetic. But it didn't mesh with me, and I'm still not exactly sure why.

Described as a YA feminist mash-up of The Lost Boys and The Craft, this book follows its main character, literally named Mayhem, and her mother, Roxy, as they deal with secrets, hidden magic, and the ties that bind in families.

It's witchy, it's 1987, and it's Santa Monica.

Mayhem and her mother are on the run from her abusive stepfather, Lyle, and its gotten so bad that Roxy decides to bite the bullet and take them home to the Braeburn house. Roxy used to be a Braeburn, but she's spent all of Mayhem's life trying to forget her roots.

Mayhem doesn't understand her mom's reluctance to go home, because her aunt and cousins are awesome. Being a Braeburn means belonging, accepting, and a home of her own. It's a dream come true.

Being a Braeburn also means that Mayhem has a legacy, and one that her mother literally tried to squash out of her—the Braeburn women are magical.

When Mayhem, her cousins, and the Braeburn legacy all intertwine for the first time....things are about to get intense in a major way. And there's also the disappearing girls. That too.

My thoughts:
As I said at the beginning, I think this novel wasn't for me. It was written well, the characters leapt off the page, and the plot seemed to mesh well with a lot of other readers, so I'm clearly not the core audience for this one—take my thoughts with that grain of salt.

It was just a case of the novel not fitting with my tastes of YA. I think I'll leave it with that to keep things spoiler free.

If the description appeals to you, check this out!

Thank you the Wednesday Books for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Carrie.
3,154 reviews1,514 followers
July 17, 2020
Mayhem by Estelle Laure is one of those books that straddles the line in genres but the most prominant is this is definitely young adult. With that genre though I would definitely warn of a few things with this one such as rape, abuse and language. The story takes place in the late 1980’s making it also historical along with being set in the same world as The Lost Boys giving it a fantasy edge involving some magical realism.

Now when they compared this book to The Lost Boys I was excited to pick it up with that being one of my favorite movies however I was not expecting to go in to the story with the setting almost exactly the same. Instead of the two boys and their mother visiting their grandfather in Santa Carla, California we have a teen girl, Mayhem, and her mother running from an abusive step father to Santa Maria, CA. When they arrive Mayhem goes out with the other kids in the home to a boardwalk desribed almost exactly as I remember. This includes all the missing girl poster and a warning from the Frog brothers about vampires.

Now here is where we finally start differing the story into something of it’s own besides the characters being changed. Mayhem begins to learn that her mother’s family is infused with a long line of witchcraft after Mayhem picks up an old journal of a relative. This all leads to Mayhem learning magic and then helping stop a serial killer.

Now, at first I was a bit excited to be dropped into a Lost Boys world thinking that may make me love the rest of the story but instead I think it actually lead to disappointment. As much as this seemed to mirror the original it also strayed away and to me that story just wasn’t as strong as the vampire original that I think the author would have been better off just creating a similar original world all her own so readers could immerse themselves into Mayhem’s tale that to me this way felt a bit anti-climatic so this one turned a bit meh to me overall.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
August 14, 2020
The Brayburn women of Santa Maria, California have always carried an air of mystery and the residents both fear and appreciate them.
Roxy Brayburn did her best to escape the pull of Santa Maria and her destiny by taking her daughter Mayhem far away. She’s become dependent on the cocktail of prescription meds and white wine that have kept the memories of her hometown at bay for many years but she must return when her husband Lyle’s abuse goes a step too far for her.

Now Mayhem has the opportunity to learn about her estranged family and discover magic in her lineage that she will inherit. Roxy and Mayhem have just begun to settle into the their small beach town with Roxy's sisters Elle when rumors of a serial killer dubbed the Sand Snatcher begin and Lyle’s phone calls threaten the peace the mother and daughter hoped to find.

I wanted to love this story. The cover is killer, the book summary grabbed me, and I love the idea of a “feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.”
There are several Lost Boys references here but I’ll just say there are appearances from the Frog brothers and the oiled-up sax man. I didn’t get any Craft vibes; I felt Roxy’s relationship with her sister along with the abusive ex was very reminiscent of Practical Magic.
Instead of traditional vampires we get something watered down (if you read the story, know this pun was intended) with a backstory explained through letters that left me with way more questions than answers.
The story breezed through insta-love, a friend to frenemy, and justice for a serial killer and abusive ex. I never felt the urgency or like the stakes were high. I appreciated the 80s low-key horror influence as well as women taking a stand against abuse, and the recovery process for addiction, but the overall story was rushed and relied too heavily on nostalgia.

Thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Mayhem is scheduled for release on July 14, 2020.

For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Heather *sad DNF queen*.
Author 19 books461 followers
December 5, 2019
I requested this book from NetGalley because it was called "a mashup of The Lost Boys and The Craft." (With a dash of the Manson family, apparently.) As the world's leading expert on those two movies, I decided I would be the judge of that.

Well, I didn't quite see the resemblance to The Craft. It was more like if the witches from Practical Magic did more murder. However, it was more than clear the author borrowed from The Lost Boys—almost too much actually, and it began to hamper my enjoyment.

1. The book is set in 1987, in a fictional beach side town with a thriving boardwalk culture and a little too much murder and missing people. There is also a secret hideout, much like the sunken hotel in the movie.

2. The literal Frog brothers from the movie are in this book. Edgar and Alan, dressing in military-type clothes, working a comic book shop, speaking in faux-action hero parlance, and totally obsessed with vampires. How is this possible? How can the author take characters directly from a movie and put them in her book without making any changes to them?

3. The sax player from the movie also makes an appearance. Shirtless, oiled, curly-haired, totally outrageous. It was a bit on the nose.

4. The book even borrows a quote from the grandpa in the movie, where he says the one thing he could never stomach about Santa Carla was all the goddamn vampires. The book gives the quote to one of the Frog brothers, changing "Santa Carla" to "Santa Maria."

While I really love The Lost Boys—or maybe because I do—I started not to like these references so much as they became more and more obvious in the text. You can't just straight up lift things from other creative works and lay them directly down in your own.

I loved the beginning of this book a lot. It was so good. My enjoyment plateaued after a while, when things actually started to happen. It was such a great setup, and the characters were varied and interesting (with pretty great wardrobes). I don't know exactly what I expected, but this book just didn't have the punch I was looking for.

2.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 167 books37.5k followers
July 14, 2020
Mayhem Brayburn never felt like she fit into the small town in Texas that her mother, Roxy, took her to when she was very small, running away from California. Part of not fitting in is the toxic culture of us against them that can poison small town life, but far worse is the abusive stepfather whose violence has finally turned away from May’s mother onto May—which finally enables with her mother, Roxy, to flee again—back to Roxy’s home town, Santa Maria, California.

The choice of town, and the setting with the boardwalk and nighttime carnival atmosphere, calls up THE LOST BOYS. The author plays with that image deliberately as she lays down the character threads. Everything hums with realism, both good and bad emotions: May’s teenage alienation, resonating with fear and anger—an early insight is May realizing that her stepfather’s abuse has been turning her into a hateful person, and she doesn’t want to be that person.

Then, when we have met all the main characters, including May’s strong, complex Aunt Elle, and the three very mysterious kids Elle is in the process of adopting, the story slips in the fantasy element, beautifully realized.

As one might expect from a story riffing off of THE LOST BOYS, there is darkness here: domestic violence, serial killers, drug addiction. Suicide. No actual vampires, though the implied power play in vampirism gets explored in a fascinating way as the story races toward the end.

Woven between May’s chapters are excerpts from diaries kept by her ancestors, all women. We begin to discover that the Brayburn women are powerful, that they have secrets, that they walk a very dangerous path. Power can be addictive, and the belief that one is using power for good.

I loved the women in this book. The fantasy element enhances a story that resonates with insight into family lines, emotional complexity, all kinds of love. Including the toxic possession that is the dark mirror to love.

The writing is so vivid and strong, so well-crafted that I didn’t even notice the present tense until more than halfway through—though I have come to resist the current fad for present tense, as I keep finding it so awkwardly done. Not here. Present tense, done well, underscores immediacy, and boy howdy does it work here.

Copy provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Yna from Books and Boybands.
747 reviews345 followers
September 9, 2020
"People are afraid of teenagers, but I think that’s only because kids can see through bullshit. Every revolution and social movement has started with teenagers, right?"

📚 Series? No.
📚 Genre? YA Fantasy Thriller
📚 POV? First person.
📚 Cliffhanger? No.

⚠ Content Warnings:  Drug addiction. Murder. Assault. Rape. Domestic Violence.
⚠ Book Tags :  Magic. Feminist.

The book is about:
Mayhem is a book set in the late 1980s about its lead character, Mayhem, and her family. At the start of the book, Mayhem and her mom rush to Santa Maria, California to escape her mom's abusive partner. They live with her mom's sister and the group of misfit kids that she lived with. Aside from this, Mayhem discovers that magic runs in her blood, and she weaves these skills in to understand more about her life and fight against the abuse they endured.

What drew me in:
I was attracted to join the blog tour of this book because of the enticing blurb. Though it was pitched as Lost Boys meets Craft, I have no idea about both and was coming in blind. I loved the first few chapters and the author's writing style drew me in.

Characters & connections:
I felt deeply connected with Mayhem and her mother. Their pain resonated in the book, especially since they sprung from the abuse they went through. Though it has elements of fantasy, this book can really hit where it hurts.

Everything I liked:
I liked the vibe of the book. All the references to the late 80s were a good addition. I especially love the homage to 80s horror styles and I also adored the diary entries scattered throughout the book that gave me a closer to look to the story.

Overall thoughts:
Mayhem delivered a unique meeting of a youthful mind with some really dark themes. The pacing slows at some point but was a great read overall because of the connection you get with the characters, as well as the magical factor of the story.


🌼 Blurb:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Main Character:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Support Characters:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Writing Style:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Character Development:⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Thrill: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Pacing: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Ending: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Unputdownability: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Much thanks to Sarah from Wednesday Books for this complimentary copy. This review is voluntary and opinions are fully my own. Also, all quotes are taken from the ARC and may be different in the final published copy.

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Profile Image for Fanna.
992 reviews502 followers
October 7, 2020
October 06, 2020: This book gave so much: the emotional peaks of familial relationships, the thrill of a serial killer on the loose, the horrifying brutality against women by men who seem absolutely normal, supernatural aspects of an island, and the mystery of a legacy. The descriptive writing and a different style of narration uplifts the reading experience. An intriguing story that drives on the wheels of developing its characters so my personal preference of a plot makes me want more of the latter from this book. The execution lags in terms of pacing but overall, it delivers enough to keep you going.

May 6, 2020: While I don't always love lyrical writing, I can't help but be excited for this one because it brings a feminist twist to the classic, The Lost Boys, and promises some to strike some emotions. Plus, it brings the paranormal vibes to a beach and honestly, nothing is scarier for me. LOL I received a digital copy of this via Netgalley so thank you, Wednesday Books!
Profile Image for Schizanthus Nerd.
1,151 reviews241 followers
July 12, 2020
“Don’t you want to know what’s really going on, Mayhem?”
Mayhem and Roxy, her mother, have recently moved in with Elle, Roxy’s twin sister, and her foster children. Roxy always swore she’d never return to Santa Maria but Mayhem doesn’t know why. It turns out there’s a lot she doesn’t know about being a Brayburn.

This book covers a lot of ground: family legacies, the secrets we keep from ourselves and others, the impacts of trauma and the ways we try to reclaim our power.
I was only three. Lyle saved us. That’s the story.
The portrayal of what it’s like for a child living in a home where domestic violence is the norm was painfully authentic. I could feel what it was like for Mayhem as the abuse was happening to both herself and her mother, the impacts of which were evident throughout the story.

I particularly appreciated the fact that once there was some physical distance between the abused and abuser, life didn’t automatically become sunshine and roses. The abuse wasn’t sensationalised but it also wasn’t sugarcoated.
Roxy doesn’t cry. Neither of us do. We don’t talk about it, even to each other, like if we never say it out loud, it will stop.
There were some sentences that resonated with me so much that I had to reread them immediately and then pause while I absorbed them. I anticipate these quotes will be staying with me for quite a while:
“Don’t let the idea of people overshadow truth.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to hear things, because then you have to admit other things and the story you’ve been telling yourself unravels so fast you can barely handle it.”
I found the names of several businesses in the story absolutely delightful. I’d stop reading when I came across those as well, but only long enough to say to the nearest person, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’. My favourite was We’ve Got Issues, a comic book store. Brilliant!

Then there were the parts of the story that hovered over my head, just out of reach. In particular, I wasn’t always entirely sure what was happening during the scenes where magic happens. There often wasn’t enough detail given to allow me to ‘see’ what was going on.

There was one scene involving the serial killer where this was especially evident; I didn’t even know what happened until I was given more information a few pages later. Incidentally, I had hoped the serial killer would have more page time than they did. The resolution of their part of the story was much too quick and easy for my liking.

I began to read some reviews to find out if I was the only one who wasn’t always getting it. Plenty of reviewers have mentioned the similarities between this story and The Lost Boys. I’ve never seen that movie and I’m still not sure if it was an advantage or disadvantage coming into this book uninitiated.

It has made me wonder if some of the more magical components of this story were written using a kind of shorthand, where if you were familiar with the movie you’d know exactly what the author was talking about without needing the additional descriptions that would have been beneficial for me.

The person I most wanted to get to know was Neve but she remained somewhat of a mystery to me. I wanted to find out more about her life before she lived with Elle but I only caught a couple of glimpses.
“They do not mess with us,” Neve murmurs, almost to herself. “For good reason.”
I’ve never been a fan of insta-love although sometimes it grows on me as a story progresses. It didn’t here. I also became frustrated as the story never really came together for me, even though there were plenty of elements that I should have loved.

Aspects of the story didn’t have the depth I was looking for and neither did some of the characters. I wanted to come away having a detailed understanding of the way the magic worked but I could only explain it to you in vague terms. I don’t even really know how to explain it but it was like I got a taste of many things but never the entire experience.
“People want to keep secrets from you, but it’s not right. You need to know everything.”
Content warnings include . Further information can be found on the author’s website.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Wednesday Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, for the opportunity to read this book.

Blog - https://schizanthusnerd.com
Profile Image for Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.).
401 reviews429 followers
July 14, 2020
Super grateful to St. Martin's Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review & it's an honor to participate in its blog tour.

I really enjoyed the experience of reading this book, the promise is wonderful, and when I see was for fans of The Craft, I knew it would resonate with me. Super grateful for being able to read the ARC and it's a story worth giving it a try. What I liked the most was the way in which super sensitive subjects are touched, I think that even when it's a book with a magical plot, its real and raw side stands out more.I also like how despite being a fairly intense plot in terms of topics, it can be read super easily and I liked the author's style, simple but profound at the same time.


3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

You can find more of my reviews & other fun content on my blog A Book. A Thought.

This story takes place in the '80s, and we follow Mayhem who has always felt that there's something different with her and her mother, but she really discovers what it is once they return to Roxy's childhood home, her mother, in Santa Maria, after that she escapes from her husband, a cruel and violent man. Once there, Mayhem is looking forward to learning more about her parents, especially about her father's suicide, where she really came from, and why her mother escaped out of there in the first place. Once there, Mayhem meets her cousins ​​and her aunt and begins a journey of self-discovery, where she'll discover that she comes from a family lineage of women who possess magic. The boys are seen searching for a kidnapper who's terrorizing Santa Maria, and in the process, unknown powers, and sources of dangerous magic will be uncovered, and Mayhem wonders if revenge is actually the right call to her.

I have to be honest here, as I always try to be. I liked the book and I really had a great time with it, but I don't think it had the impact I was looking for in this story. From the beginning, hard-hitting topics such as domestic violence, suicide, rape and drug use, among others, are touched, and you know it will be a heavy and emotional plot. I liked how this side was touched, although the rest of the story was the one that seemed most incomplete to me, and that's the magical realism side, and all that witchcraft that the story promises. I think this magical side is superficially explored and when the characters begin to develop their abilities and powers, it falls a bit short. I felt that although the author's idea is good and I think that the origin of the magic itself is very interesting, it's not well developed and everything feels very rush and simple, which is a shame. I would have liked a slower transition, and I know it sounds strange, because I love fast-paced plots, but when there's so much information it seems to me that a 300-page book couldn't give it the intensity and depth that each topic deserves.

I liked the writing style quite a bit and I think the author's prose is lyrical and makes it feel atmospheric, which you know I love, plus the place where the story unfolds, Santa Maria, California, is really beautiful and I feel It was the perfect place for this witchy/mystery story. The descriptions of the place are brief but very good, and I think they're successful. The characters spend time in a cave which is a great protagonist of the story, and I loved those scenes: they agreed the perfect atmosphere with the perfect dialogues and I think they were the most solid scenes in the book, they even give it a touch of mystery and makes the characters related in an honest way. Plus, we see a hint of very clever magic happening in the cave.

I want to highlight how the mother-daughter relationship is, in fact, the main relationship of the story, which I appreciate very much, I found it very well achieved and filled with feelings, I enjoyed to see the development and growth between Mayhem and Roxy, and how they grow later to survive such sad and cruel situations. We also have a romance going on, and surprisingly I liked it! I think it's super insta-love, but even so, the chemistry between the characters is amazing and I adore both of them, so I think that's why I liked that they were together.

The characters are fine, again I think a lot of development is missing, I'd have liked in general to know more about each one of their past and manage to establish a more sentimental connection. Although I wasn't able to completely love anyone, I do have some that resonated more with me and I'll talk a little about them. First, we have Mayhem, our main character, she comes from living in a home with a lot of violence and mistreatment by her stepfather, so we see a very submissive and scared girl at first, and I must say that her evolution surprised me so much. As the book is short, all this takes place in just a couple of chapters, but I could see the evolution, and the fact that it has become stronger and more determined made me feel proud of her. Roxy is her mother, and this is a complicated character and difficult to empathize with at first, but after she overcomes all the demons she battles with internally and sits down to finally talk to her daughter, I think she shows a wonderful side, of a mother who's seriously concerned and considerate. My favorite character has to be Jason, he's a super-intelligent guy and I also love how he cares about his sister, Kidd, and how much he protects her, I also think he has the best dialogues. Nevie is like the rebellious witch of the story and although I didn't like her personally, because her attitude is too much for me, she's a well-thought-out character and it shows & finally, Elle, Mayhem's aunt, is great, she reminded me a bit of a character from Practical Magic or Charmed, and that vibe is everything, especially when it comes to her relationship with her sister.

The author wanted to add a side of mystery to the plot which I didn't like very much. There's a man "kidnapping" girls on the beach and that's super creepy, but I expected much more from this sub-plotline, the outcome is super expected and everything is solved conveniently and easily, so I don't think it's a remarkable factor, but that was there to give another vibe to the plot.

One factor that I did like and enjoyed, was that there are some chapters that are told in the form of letters from the women of the Brayburn lineage, and they all talk about their life experiences with magic and their abilities, and that was a very nice touch. It gives you depth and for a moment you can feel everything reading it, it's great. Still, I repeat, I would have loved to know more about this family in depth.

In summary, I quite liked the book, I also liked the ending even when it's quite open, I think that fact gives it a more realistic side. I think it's fun and easy to read, even when it touches on difficult topics, so be careful about it. I like the idea of ​​the author to tell the story of a lineage of powerful women, and put a little magic there, in a very unique way, I liked that, BUT I think that each and every aspect deserved a little more depth and development, so the reader can enjoy and feel more committed to the story itself. The characters are fine, and it also has very solid scenes with very deep dialogues, so if that's something you like then you should give it a chance. It also has a very beautiful atmosphere and the magic-realism is played in a very interesting way. Although I was expecting a little more, I can say that it was a great read!
Profile Image for Amber.
991 reviews
December 4, 2019
I received a complimentary copy of this e-book ARC from the author, publisher, and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mayhem and Roxy move to Santa Maria to escape an abusive environment. When Mayhem discovers that her family are witches, will she accept her powers and give in to her namesake to kill anyone who harms her family and others? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good YA horror fantasy. If you like stories like this, be sure to check this book out when it officially hits bookstores and wherever books are sold online on July 14,2020.
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,019 reviews15.7k followers
July 16, 2020
Books that make you go hmm... what a uniquely wild ride! OK so this book is marketed as a feminist mash up of The Lost Boys and The Craft. I saw The Lost Boys in 1987 when it came out. In all honesty I don’t remember much other than I really liked the soundtrack and there was some kind of supernatural element going on. In reading other reviews it appears as though a lot of this book has been A little too much like the original for peoples liking, but I can’t remember the original so that was completely lost on me. Never saw The Craft, so I have no idea if it’s anything like that at all. So now on to what I do know... Chloe Cannon narrates the audiobook and does a spectacular job! I’m going to be honest I’m not certain this book would’ve held my attention if it weren’t for the wonderful narration of Chloe. It’s not that I did not like this book, it is that occasionally I was a little lost and confused.It was kind of like reading a book through a bank of fog. Mayhem and her mom flea mom’s abusive boyfriend and return home to California. Mom is not crazy about returning home, but her sister is glad to welcome them back. Mayhem soon befriends her aunt’s foster children, but there are secrets brewing. A necklace with a bird charm, magical water, N soon the teens are attempting to save the town from a serial killer. Mayhem was a likable and unusual character. The other characters were interesting, but I always felt like there was a layer of haze between me and them. An interesting premise that didn’t necessarily work for me, but I think will work for others. Now I’m going to go listen to my Lost Boys soundtrack on cassette, of course I need to go find a cassette player.

This book in emojis 🦇 🌫 💦 🏖

*** Big thank you to Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***
Profile Image for Jane.
928 reviews56 followers
December 24, 2021
3 stars (release date July 14, 2020)

You can read all of my reviews at https://nerdgirllovesbooks.com/.

This is a fun YA fantasy book that is marketed as being "inspired" by the movie The Lost Boys. It's a quick and easy read, however the book follows much too closely the the movie and doesn't contain many original concepts. (It is also mentioned that the book is inspired by the movie The Craft, but I don't really see it).

The story is set in 1987 and revolves around sixteen-year-old Mayhem Brayburn. Her mother Roxy is addicted to drugs and alcohol. Mayhem lives with Roxy in a small town in Texas with her abusive step-dad. Mayhem and Roxy eventually flee Texas and return to Roxy's hometown in California. They move in with Roxy's twin sister Elle, and three kids that Elle is fostering. Right away, Mayhem notices that something is "off" about Elle and the children.

Santa Maria is a small coastal town that has an unexpectedly high crime rate and is currently being stalked by a serial kidnapper that is taking young teenage girls from the beach at night. So far, none of the girls have been found and no one knows if they are alive or dead.

It turns out that Roxy fled Santa Maria to escape the magic that runs through the female lineage of her family and to save Mayhem from it, however Mayhem discovers it anyway and embraces the power. Her family is considered the caretakers of Santa Maria and exact a form of vigilante justice when someone from the town has been harmed. With this new power, Mayhem starts to look for the serial kidnapper to bring him to justice.

As I said before, the book is a fun, easy read and if it didn't copy the movie quite so much, I would have enjoyed it more. That said, if you don't know the plot of The Lost Boys movie, you will enjoy the book and it probably won't bug you. There was only one aspect that I thought was similar to the movie The Craft, so that isn't a problem.

Other than Mayhem, there is very little character development. A couple character's story lines are begun, but are just left hanging and never developed or resolved. This is annoying. The book is unevenly paced and dragged until roughly the middle. It improved after that and the story moved along nicely. The book is pretty grim, but there are moments of humor here and there.

Overall, the book is a fun, enjoyable read.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.

February 9, 2020
I loved this!

This was pure gold - a perfect blend of dark themes and youthful spirit set against the backdrop of beach vibes and eighties nostalgia.

Mayhem seeks refuge at her aunt's farm in Santa Monica after being on the run from her abusive step-father. She befriends her three adopted cousins, Jason, Neve and Kidd, who introduce her to fun times at the boardwalk and on the beach. When Mayhem starts to feel a strange pull towards the ocean, her cousins reveal that a magical lineage runs deep in the Brayburn family and exists in the ancient water of the pier, and she is next in line to inherit magical powers that allow her to see other people's darkest secrets. Transformed, Mayhem's life is turned completely upside down as she realizes it is her birthright to protect the citizens of Santa Monica from a raving serial killer on the loose. But with this newfound power there are costs to be paid, and Mayhem must come to terms with what she has become and how to protect her family from even themselves.

I was delighted by this premise and the unique nature of the magic system. I loved how it felt like it could somehow happen in real life, like it was just the perfect amount of magic in the modern world without being cheesy. I'm glad that this book shied away from the vampire trope, it felt completely on its own as a separate mystical evocation. And it was woven in so well with family dramas, particularly the relationship with Mayhem and her mother who was abused and beaten, but battling her own demons while addicted to pain pills and alcohol. These characters were flawed and deeply layered. The plot was well-structured and well-articulated. The characters were vivid and jumped off the page. The pacing was smooth and I was never counting pages. It read a little young, but dealt with death and murder and the morality of being a vigilante in a very mature way. All in all, a fantastic, enjoyable read.

Thank you to netgalley for a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jypsy .
1,524 reviews60 followers
July 17, 2020
Thank you Wednesday Books for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

By: Estelle Laure


It's my stop on the Mayhem blog tour!

Please note this book contains potential triggers, such as child/domestic abuse, rape, murder, general violence, etc.

Mayhem is physically a16 year old girl, but her accumulated life experiences have aged her well beyond what any young woman should endure. Mayhem has an abusive step father, but her mother, Roxy, has finally decided to leave him. Their destination is Santa Maria, California-the place Roxy fled years ago and swore to not return. Mayhem knows nothing about her mother's family, the Brayburn's, but her connection to these people is about to change Mayhem's life. In this town, the Rayburn's are respected but also feared. Why? This story is very much about women and their power. Mayhem and her new family of women are strong but tinged with sorrow and despair. There is something odd going on here. As Mayhem unravels the connection and heritage of her mother, her world is forever altered. A power, a magic, is Mayhem's to possess, but is it a gift or a curse? She has many problems in her life. This is California in the late 1980's with a serial killer on the loose, and Mayhem wants justice. There are numerous elements in play, and Mayhem must come to terms with her destiny. The atmospheric vibe mix of the 80's, gothic creepy and a low budget horror movie is fantastic. I found it compelling, bizarre and unsettling. The whole thing feels completely untethered and spinning wildly. As stories go, this one is dark with heavy themes and ideas. It's not for everyone but with the right audience, perfection. I hope you will give this book a try if it suits you!
Profile Image for BookNightOwl.
977 reviews174 followers
June 25, 2020
Thank you Netgalley for providing an ARC of this book for an honest review.

This book follows Mayhem and her mother Roxy who recently left her abusive husband back to her hometown where secrets lay. There Roxy will really find out what being a female Brayburn means.

I really wanted to like this. I liked maybe the first 2 chapters and then it all fell apart for me. I found it slow and not exciting at all. I felt like nothing was happening. The writing was really bland and I wanted something more from this story. It is compared to the outsiders meets The Craft. Two movies that I have never watched so who knows.
Profile Image for Kristen Peppercorn .
551 reviews96 followers
May 31, 2020
I feel bad DNF'-ing this seeing as the publisher kindly reached out to ME, lil old ME, to offer me an ARC. That being said, I just could not enjoy this book.

I see a lot of the reviews talking up how it's too close for comfort to The Lost Boys. I ain't even gonna get into that.

The reason I personally didn't like this book is because it encompassed every single thing I hate about teenagers, while managing to leave out all of the amazing things that I love about them.

This book SCREAMS teen angst. Now I don't hate angst in general, but the one thing I can't stand is angst for the sake of angst. It's one thing if you've lived a hard or oppressed life to end up piercing your underarms or getting a tattoo on your bald head. I understand that. It makes sense. But this was the kind of pointless angst I can't stand. Like, your life ain't that bad. Calm the heck dOWN.

We got a feminist character that didn't shave her armpits just for the sake of being a feminist. (At least be like me and not shave em cuz you're lazy.)

We got all your stereotypical favorites like blue-haired bitch, edgy bitch, young bitch, weed-smoker bitch. Just too many for me to even keep track of, tbh. Idek all the characters cuz they were stressing me out so bad.

You know that vegan instagram model who only eats kale and adopts hairless cats and has 400 houseplants around their studio apartment that costs $3k a month? This book is her.

I'm sorry. Not for me. If you love trendy shit though, this is right up your alley.
Profile Image for Taylor.
767 reviews420 followers
January 2, 2020
I loved the idea of this book more than the actual book. It sounded amazing but the execution could have been better. The writing style was beautiful, I loved it. The descriptions were so wonderfully written and creates such a lush visualization of the characters and settings.
I've never seen The Craft or The Lost Boys but I've seen multiple reviews saying it borderline copies The Lost Boys at various points, which if that’s the case, I'm not a fan of direct copying someone else’s work.
The biggest downfall I found was how slow this book is. If the pace was quicker, I'm sure I would have loved it but I just didn't have the patience for the dragging pace of the plot. I also thought the last half of the book changed it tone rather quickly and felt like a different person was writing the story. The characters started acting completely differently and it felt so disjointed from the first half of the book.
I wish there was a better build up to the action, that it wasn't forced into the last half of the book. And even though there was an attempt at speeding up the pace, it still felt slow to me.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,144 reviews1,009 followers
July 15, 2020
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

This book was quite a unique take on contemporary fantasy. I enjoyed it aside from a few minor qualms, so why don't we break it down into what I loved versus what worked a bit less for me, yeah?

What I Loved:

►Such a focus on family and friendships! I loved how much the book centered on Mayhem's family. We know Mayhem's mother loves her quite a bit, but she's deep into fighting her own major demons, including an abusive husband (and stepfather of Mayhem) that they've just escaped from. They flee to Mayhem's aunt's home, which is also their childhood home, and Mayhem gets to learn a lot of stuff about her family for the first time. Her aunt also has kids she's taken under her wing who immediately become part of Mayhem's new circle of people. It's great to watch all these relationships blossom and change and grow.

►Always here for an '80s setting. Mayhem pulls out a Kissing Kooler at one point. A Kissing. Kooler. I lived and died by those things, I won't lie. (Apparently, according to the search I did above, you can still buy them on eBay. I do not recommend this, as we're talking 30 year old makeup, but you do you.) Anyway, I think the author did a great job using the beach/ocean backdrop with the nostalgic era, too. For whatever reason, mysteries set pre-cell phone era gives me the extra willies and I like it.

►It deals with some pretty heavy subject matter. The author has put a note in the final copy of the book (including some content warning), and you can find it here. But we know there is abuse from Mayhem's stepfather out of the gate, but the mystery that Mayhem finds herself a part of also includes some pretty heinous crimes. But I liked the way that some of the choices that Mayhem and the others had to make fell into a very gray moral area, and Mayhem really had to decide how she wanted to use the power she'd inherited.

►I didn't have trouble figuring out the magic.  I mean, it isn't explored super in-depth, but I think that is purposeful. Like, it doesn't really matter where it came from because it's here and now Mayhem needs to decide how she wants to use it. I also liked that it's a female familial connection, and we even get glimpses of journal entries from her ancestors describing how they handled the realization that they possessed magic.

What I Didn't:

►The pacing felt a bit off to me. Parts of it, especially the first half, felt a little draggy to me, but then by the end I had felt like perhaps some of the resolution was a bit rushed. Not a dealbreaker, but worth noting, especially if you get irked by slower pacing.

►This is maybe a little spoilery, so I am going to do some tags, but I'll say it's a bit of a character complaint.

Bottom Line: Super atmospheric and wonderfully mysterious, I was pulled into Mayhem's world of family and magic.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,040 reviews320 followers
November 13, 2020
By Estelle Laure

There is nothing more I love to read about than stories set in the 80’s and in my home state of California. The story has elements of magical realism, witches, a thrilling murder mystery and supernatural – which I enjoyed reading about. The story flowed well and written in a very distinct voice that I really enjoyed including diary entries. The story is about Mayhem Brayburn and her mother Roxy who leaves to Santa Maria, California, a beautiful coastal town to escape an abusive father. Moving back to their hometown, May befriends the kids adopted by her aunt where she discovers some magic and what life will look like for her in her future.

I thought that the writing was immersive, and I did somehow get the Lost Boys feminist take of this story - a retelling of some sorts. I thought the weaving of the story line with the backstory was creatively written and well done. This was a real enjoyable read that I will continue to recommend to readers of YA and anyone looking for a great supernatural feminist read.

Profile Image for Natalie  all_books_great_and_small .
2,105 reviews75 followers
July 10, 2020
I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers.

Mayhem is set in the 80s in a small town with a founding family being held in high regard by the townspeople for helping members of the townspeople when sought.

Mayhem and her mother Roxy return to the town when Roxy's husband (Mayhem's step father) attacks Mayhem.
Roxy has been in this abusive relationship for 13 years and its only when the abuse shifts to her daughter that she finally finds the courage to leave and return to her home town.

Mayhem befriends Roxy's soon to be adopted children and they show her a hidden magical club house in which Mayhem taps in to the magic they are a part of and that is a part of them. They use this magic to do good and seek to stop a serial killer targeting young women that are simply vanishing off the beach.

I enjoyed this book but just wish more was explained as to the magical side such as what the family do to help the townsfolk to receive daily offerings at the gates and that there was more magical occurrences and paranormal happenings as this would have made the book even better.
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