Summary from Goodreads:
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.
eARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This review is spoiler free.
Content warning: abuse, drug use, murder, death of a parent, death of a spouse, grief, mentions of robbery, mentions of rape, drug withdrawal
Hello and welcome back to Arin requests books that she doesn’t really know much about, except this time she is shockingly pleased. I don’t really know what I thought this book was about, I just saw that it was a YA book with feminist themes and a pretty cover and thought why not. However, this book was so much more than that. I feel like I still cannot adequately describe it, especially without spoilers, but I am going to do my best to talk about what I liked and didn’t like about it.
This book was told through a mixture of diary entries and traditional novel format. Not all of the diary entries were from the main character either, so it was a good way to learn more about the other characters in the story and even more about main character as we got to see her reactions to the journals of her ancestors. These journals talked about dark topics and helped show just how different reactions to similar events can be, I really enjoyed that aspect.
The found family vibes were strong in this one. Mayhem, the main character, has to move in with her aunt and the children she has taken under her wing and essentially adopted, so it had the perfect setup for a found family situation and it did not disappoint. This was in part a story of a group of “broken” children coming together in order to make sure they could never get hurt again and while it is clearly very hard hitting, it was also kind of heart warming to read about.
The spooky summer beach vibes. I know that I do not read horror or thrillers often, so I cannot speak to whether this is common or not, but the spooky beach and summer vibes was one of my favorite things about this novel. It was so atmospheric and helped set the tone for the whole novel, I loved the little details of how everyone was still on the beach and throwing parties but how everyone was also on guard at the same time to make sure nothing bad happened to them.
The magic system. I cannot say much about this without spoiling anything, but I thought the magic system and the details about how it worked for each person was really interesting. It was so vivid and I could see it in my mind, which is honestly kind of rare for me, so I very much enjoyed that.
Now, there was one thing that I didn’t like and that is how slow the beginning of the book was. I think it was about 40 percent before we launched into the actual plot and by then I was a little confused as to what the book was actually about. The pacing from then on was somewhat okay, but it probably could have been better.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it for people who enjoyed Summer of Salt or Far From You, as it gave me very similar vibes. That being said, this is a heavier read, so please take the content warnings into account and stay safe friends!