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.
Thank you to Sarah Bonamino with St. Martin’s Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I really wanted to like this book. I was immediately interested after reading the summary. Magic and the 80s? Sign me the hell up. Sadly, this book was a miss for me. I really liked it at the beginning, but the further I read the less I liked it. There were some aspects that I really liked, but the things I didn’t care about outweighed those things.
We follow Mayhem as she and her mother, Roxy, return to Roxy’s hometown of Santa Maria. Mayhem and Roxy are running from Roxy’s husband who is abusive. I liked how this book covered hard topics. The abuse was hard to read about but realistic. Roxy was also addicted to drugs. This was a topic that was covered well. It was discussed thoughtfully and with care. This isn’t always the case, so it was something that I appreciated.
The magic in this book was so interesting. It follows the Brayburn bloodline, mostly. It stems from an ancestor. Their powers come from water that isn’t water in a cave that most people will never be able to find. I thought the magic was chaotic and horrifying and wonderful. This was probably my favorite part of the story. Learning about the history of the family, how the magic came to be, and how the adopted children of Mayhem’s aunt, Elle, came to have the Brayburn magic.
But these adopted cousins that Mayhem has just met were part of my problem with this book. Jason, Neve, and Kidd are wonderful at first. Neve immediately decides that she and Mayhem are going to be best friends. This wasn’t really believable to me because Neve was hot and cold with her. Keeping secrets and leaving her out of things, but acting like this isn’t between them when it suits her. Then Neve takes things too far and I just really didn’t like it. I guess things came around in the end, but I just didn’t care for Neve. Then there’s the romantic relationship that kindles between Jason and Mayhem which I just couldn’t find it in myself to care about.
Finally, the ending was just so unsatisfying. There are talks about healing Mayhem’s cousins from the magic, but there was no follow through with that and that just made me mad.
Overall, I enjoyed parts of this book. I read it very quickly. It was a captivating story, but there were too many things that I just didn’t care for. Also, I read other reviews that said parts of this story were almost word for word from the two stories it was inspired from. I haven’t read or watched them so I cannot say but there were more than a handful of reviews that mentioned this. I think there will definitely be some people that love this book, but it was a miss for me.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.