Book Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure

mayhem

“One thing I never could stomach about Santa Maria, all the goddamn vampires.”

Release: July 14, 2020

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Publisher: Wednesday Books

Price: $18.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

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.

Grade: B+

Review:

First things first, anyone who knows me knows that The Lost Boys has been one of my favourite movies since I first watched it at 8 yrs old. In fact, I’ll admit that it’s probably my favourite vampire movie ever. And you know there have been a lot of movies made about those alluring bloodsuckers. Having stated that, it was a total no brainer for me to want to join the book tour for this novel as it had been marketed as a cross between The Lost Boys and The Craft. What I hadn’t expected was to find actual characters from The Lost Boys in the novel! What does that mean? It means that we run into the Frog Brothers (notorious for being vampire slayers) and we even get to witness a sax solo by Sax Man (if you’ve seen the movie then you know exactly who I’m referring to). If seeing characters from the movie wasn’t enough, we’re also treated with the exploration of the infamous cave from the movie.

The book is filled with so much 80’s nostalgia that I don’t know if the author was aiming to win the hearts of 30-yrs olds who lived during the ’80s or to make today’s teens (after all this is a YA novel and supposedly teens are the targeted audience) yearn for a time they never got to live through the experience.

I didn’t mind the movie references too much, because like I said I LOVE The Lost Boys. I also liked the protagonist Mayhem a lot. She managed to talk her mom into leaving her abusive step-dad and return to her hometown of Santa Maria. Now if you think that this novel is about vampires, well you’re only halfway right. The novel offers a different perspective on the supernatural, where, much like in the Anne Rice Werewolf series, the supernatural entity uses its powers for the good of the community rather than for evil. But even when you’re ridding the town of evil people, the question that looms over Mayhem’s head is, is it moral to decide who gets to live or die, even if the person they’re killing has done terrible things? The novel tries to grapple with that along with the question of, can one break free from one’s lineage and familial curse? Or does one embrace the curse and view as a gift?

For the vast majority, I enjoyed the novel although I feel as though it moved a bit too slow at first, to truly escalate towards the end. Overall, I felt as though this novel deserved more in regards to delving into the mythology of the Brayburn family and to perhaps do more into depth about the curse that spanned generations of Brayburn women.

Again, because I love The Lost Boys so much, I adored being part of this universe yet again, albeit in a different form. But if you take all the homages to The Lost Boys away, the overall plot is pretty flimsy. That’s not to say that this book isn’t worth your time. It is enjoyable, but it just lacked in certain areas.

Pick this book up if you wish to take a dive into the 80’s nostalgia, or like me, you’re a huge fan of The Lost Boys.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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6 Feminist Horror Movies

Horror movies aren’t always generous to women. Usually, women in horror movies are depicted as the victims, and if they aren’t such, they’re usually the final girls who survived (only barely) to a number of acts of violence. But there are some horror movies that turn the tables and have the women be in charge. These women aren’t weak. These women aren’t victims. These women are dangerous and make the men in the movies quake in their shoes.

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Dawn goes from cursed to strong in Teeth

Teeth (2007)

Dawn O’Keefe (Jess Weixler) looks like your typical teenager on the outside. She’s a spokesperson for a Christian abstinence group and is an all around good girl. But when one of the boy’s from her abstinence group tries to assault her, she soon finds out that she’s not like all the other girls. In fact, her vagina has teeth, the infamous “vagina dentata.” At first, Dawn sees her teethed vagina as a curse, but before the movie ends, she realizes that her curse is actually her strength and how no man will ever take advantage of her again.

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Sometimes being a teen girl can be a bloodbath as Ginger soon finds out.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

In Bailey Downs, a rash of dog killings have been occurring. Two teenage sisters, Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and Ginger Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle) are obsessed with death and take macabre photos depicting various deaths. On the night of Ginger’s first period, she is attacked by seems to be a rapid oversized dog. The creature wounds and bites Ginger, and her sister rescues her. In the days that follow, Ginger’s wounds heal quickly. But the fast healing wounds isn’t the only change that takes place in her. Soon she undergoes both physical and mental transformations. Ginger begins to act aggressively, as hair grows from her wounds, heavily menstruates, and eventually grows a tail. This film juxtaposes the act of becoming a woman with becoming a werewolf.

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Jennifer shows her rapists that they messed with the wrong girl.

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

Despite the movie being controversial for depicting a 30-minute gang rape, but the fact that the protagonist Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) decides to execute revenge towards her rapists is what makes this movie, not your usual horror film. Jennifer kills her rapists in the most savage ways, allowing any rape victim to feel somewhat vindicated in seeing a victim rise above her abuse and take charge.

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The Girl shows no mercy to abusive men. 

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

A young girl (Sheila Vand) wearing a chador stalks the streets at night. She seduces men who were known to be abusive towards women and brutally kills them. This progressive Iranian movie directed by Ana Lily Amirpour gave the world a feminist vampire that was much needed in the horror genre.

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Eli isn’t your typical little girl. She can kick your ass or kill you. 

Let The Right One In (2008)

In this chilling snow infested film, Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a young Scandinavian boy who is constantly bullied at school. But when he befriends Eli (Lina Leandersson) he begins to feel uplifted by this new friend. But Eli isn’t like all the other girls. She doesn’t suffer the cold (as she’s able to walk barefoot in the snow) and tells Oskar to stand up to his bullies and if he can’t do it, she will. Oskar soon finds out that Eli is actually quite strong because she’s a vampire. And when the bullies decide to attack Oskar once again, he soon finds out just how ruthless his friend and crush can really be.

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Asami looks disarming but she’s brutal to the men she encounters.

Audition (1999)

“Where are all the good girls?” Aoyama’s friend asks him. Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a widow who is planning on remarrying, but he doesn’t know how to meet young women. So Aoyama and his friend devise a plan where they decide to pretend that they’re auditioning young women for a movie when in reality it’s just a way for Aoyama to meet women in a safe environment. He is quickly enchanted by the delicate beauty of Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina). But Asami harbors a dark secret, a former abused child, she has grown up to take revenge on men by maiming and dismembering them through hideous forms of torture. This movie will make men think twice about lying to a woman.

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