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.
Teens with magical powers
Mayhem Brayburn was 3 years old when her mom fled their home of Santa Maria landing in Taylor, Texas. Taylor and her mom’s second husband Lyle is pretty much all Mayhem has known. Lyle is a southern charmer on the outside and an abusive control freak on the inside. Mayhem’s mom Roxy has taken more than her fair share of beatings, but when Lyle comes after Mayhem, something breaks in Roxy.
Fleeing back to Santa Maria to her ancestral farm, Roxy has fences to mend and a personal life to clean up. Her twin Elle is there to pick up the pieces, along with her three “kids” - former street kids that Elle is fostering. Mayhem has never had a friend other than her mom. She is excited and terrified that these three won’t accept her, but Elle has tasked them with teaching Mayhem about the family secrets. Apparently the Brayburns are known in Santa Maria for their special powers, or what people suspect are special powers. Mayhem has a lot to learn.
Books about teens with magic powers are not unique, but Mayhem captures teens in an honest and fresh light. The codependent relationship that Roxy has fostered with Mayhem is in need of work. Elle, while being Roxy’s twin, is almost her flip image. She is grounded and solid and what Mayhem needs right now. The three foster kids each have come from harsh circumstances, and the magical powers granted them set them free, while still locking them up.
It is a unique story. One that I thoroughly enjoyed and think that many YA readers will enjoy. There are adult overtones of violence, sex, and drugs that will be too much for young readers. However, for most mid-teens, they might have seen worse in video games. Definitely giving this one an A. Excellent storyline and character development while keeping me glued to the pages.