A review of Mayhem, by Estelle Laure

A review of Mayhem, by Estelle Laure

To preface my review: 

I got this book without reading the blurb. Because I’ve Really enjoyed Estelle’s last two books. I had actually hoped this was the continuation of them. But it was something new. For which I was wholly unprepared, with no clue of the content. 

Well…. I have to say, for the first several chapters, I was confused. Very very confused. I kept having these moments… feeling like I’d read this before. So familiar. Then I thought – there’s too much the same here… as Lost Boys. (Movie from the 1980’s if you happen to be old enough to know.) Then I thought, did the author just copy the story? Too much similarity to be a coincidence, surely. This left an overwhelming feeling of disappointment settling into me. 

I’m old enough, I watched Lost Boys movie as a teenager. Though. admittedly, it’s been many years since I watched it last – the linger feeling of it being the same, kept me confused. I mean, sure, Coastal town, boardwalk, teens, beach parties – these things are not unique to one story. But…. 

Then, dismayed, confused, and frustrated; I googled the book to read the blurb, and see it was toted as mash up of Lost Boys and Practical Magic, (or other witch stories, depending where you look – none of which I have seen.) So I was not wrong. 

In any case, I wasn’t sure whether this book was meant to be a ‘re-write with a twist’ , or an original. But it sure felt enough like a copy – hitting a lot of the key scenes of Lost Boys. The similarity wasn’t a coincidence. Down to some of the characters even having the same name and roll. In that aspect, I was pretty disappointed. I thought I was getting a new original story.

Overall, after getting past it being a Lost-Boys-but-with-girls-as-witches-not-vampires (but vampires in town were mentioned several times…) I generally enjoyed the book. I struggled a little with the writing ‘voice’ of the main character, but not due to the authors skill, but more the choice of voice. 

I have read all of the authors other published works. YA, despite myself clearly not being a YA. And I have thoroughly enjoyed them. This one fell flat for me. I was exponentially more disappointed because of the track record with Estelle’s writing.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*** MILD SPOILERS AHEAD ***

Mixed bag:

  • Mentions vampires a few times – but never does anything with this in the story. I kept expecting them to pop up, and the witch girls to defeat them or something. But nothing ever became of vampires. So why mention them, other than to make it Lost Boys? 
  • The thing the girls do to “get rid of” of bad people. Hunch over them and breathe their breath? WTF is this all about? I was left with so many questions. What was really happening? This was the kind of moment I kept wishing for a very informative info dump on what was precisely was happening. Were they sucking the life out of the bad people? Sucking out their souls? Sucking out their bad intentions? But none came. Then later one of the girl witches just suck a little out and she and the bad persons are happy(and ignorant)? Again – WHY??? What happened? And if they could such out the memory (?) of bad things, and the desire to do so – wouldn’t they be doing that from the first onset, instead of murdering them? There just was not nearly enough explanation about the process, or events, to keep an inquiring reader happy. Or satisfied. 
  • I did enjoy the way the witches girls (and boy) used some sort of meditation/breathing exercise to get a vision (?) of the bad person – and the descriptions of this, how they began to find them, the honeycombs, seeing things, Etc. But – just when it had me hooked, the details stopped. Like what WAS up with the ice forming around the ferris wheel boy? WHY? What did it mean, why did it happen? How did it stop? What might have happened???
  • Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. But no real following of the thread of why. another dropped plot string. When this started in the beginning, I was so so curious to see where this lead. Except it really didn’t. There’s the whole thing about the witches getting power from this magic well of water – but even though it’s obviously related to Mayhem’s pull – it really didn’t feel like the explanation was there. No Circle closed on that plot thread. 
  • Not enough information on why the adopted teens (and other non-family peoples mentioned) could ‘get off the water’ with no after effects, but again….. story string dropped. No info on how, why, details, details!!!! * sigh * 
  • And what was up with Neve and Jason? Relationship implied at the beginning, but another plot dropped. 
  • Then, there’s Mayhem and Jason…. Is he the ‘one love’ of Mayhem? Who knows. A thing the story goes to great lengths to illustrate, the Braeburn women only getting One Love. Mayhem… holds his hand, and feels things…. But another thread dropped and left undone

Negative:

  • So. Many. Dropped. Plot. Threads. 
  • The book was written from the perspective of 1987. Ok, fine. (Though ugh. I mean, if you’re going to re-imagine and re-write a story – be more creative and bring it to now, or a different time, in my opinion. ) My big let peeve here was that at least 3 times – the main character said certain phrases that were 100% 2020. Not a string of words that ever would have escaped the lips of a 1987 teen girl . I feel like this not only was a lapse of story setting by the author – but missed by the editor on letting it stay as is, instead of correcting to the timeline as would be appropriate – and was used in all other instances! 
  • NEVE is Mayhem’s insta best friend. Or isn’t she? It’s mixed – every time it comes up it seems to be one of the other – besties or frenemies. Mixed messages. I feel like the intent wasn’t clear. 
  • ….. more dropped treads: Neve and the bunker of half dead boys. She sucks… Whatever it …is she’s sucking- partly from them. Book tells us this removes the memories (and desires?) But then they come back to her? um, didn’t they forget? This didn’t match up. Also – What was she doing to them??? And how did she come to this conclusion? Find out the effects? Then she gets tired of them and kicks them out? I’m. So. Confused.
  • Who oh why name your kid MAYHEM?!?!? [Misuse of the word Mayhem is one of my great pet peeves.] When I see “mayhem” (regardless of the usage – all I think of is murder, and killing.0 And rightfully so, because here’s the dictionary definition: 
    • 1: needless or willful damage or violence movies filled with murder and mayhem. 
    • 2a: willful and permanent deprivation of a bodily member resulting in the impairment of a person’s fighting ability. 
    • 2b: willful and permanent crippling, mutilation, or disfigurement of any part of the body

Conclusion:

I would recommend it, if you enjoy 80’s/90’s based stories, stories that contain mythical elements – but not too much. It’s a coming of age story, but definitely not traditional. Note, trigger warnings for: rape, abuse, drugs, suicides, murders…. and assuming you know going in it’s a rebuild of Lost Boys (purposefully, or not – I am not sure.)- and are ok with that. 

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