By Estelle Laure
** Publication Date 14 July 2020 **
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.