December 12, 2017

Edward Aubry: "Mayhem's Children" (ARC Review)

Title: Mayhem's Children [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Mayhem Wave (3rd of 5 books)
Author: Edward Aubry [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Year: 2017
Age: 14+ (note: Book 1 was marketed as a YA/NA crossover. The series is progressively becoming more mature, but I would say that Book 3 covers all the spectrum from teen to adult. NA will do - especially since one of the leads is 23)
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: As in Book 1 and 2, quirky and audacious blend of post-apocalypse, technology and magic. Characters who are easy to empathise with. Never a dull moment.
Cons: The blend I mentioned might not work for everyone - and it's even more audacious here than before.
WARNING! Some gore and mature themes. There's talk of sex, but only some kissing on screen.
Will appeal to: Those who like imaginative worlds, lots of twists and turns, strong female characters and enemies-to-lovers F/F romances. Those who are looking for a fresh approach to post-apocalypse.

Blurb: Eight years have passed since the Mayhem Wave forever altered the world to a blend of science and magic, and since Harrison Cody rescued twenty-eight teenage girls from human traffickers. Now they are disappearing - but Harrison did not just rescue them from villains those many years ago, he also adopted them, and that relationship holds the key to the true nature of their present danger. Dorothy O’Neill, another of Harrison’s adopted daughters, though from very different circumstances, has taken five-year-old Melody, Harrison’s only child by blood, under her wing. As the missing persons crisis intensifies, Dorothy discovers she and Melody are targets as well. Separated by hundreds of miles, and with no means of communication, Harrison and Dorothy become entangled in the schemes of a monster who hopes to alter the world once again at the cost of all they hold dear. And as Dorothy finds an inner strength and new abilities she never dreamed of possessing, she comes to suspect Melody may be something more than she appears. (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have been talking to the author on a few occasions since reviewing his previous titles, Unhappenings, Prelude to Mayhem and Static Mayhem - which I rated 4 stars. Moreover, I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased.
 
DOUBLE THE TROUBLE (AND THEN SOME)

Mayhem Wave is a complex series, what with interweaving futuristic technology and old-but-not-plain magic, plus constantly pulling the rug from under our feet with its unexpected twists and turns. All the same, the author rides the monster without a flinch. With this installment in particular, sometimes I felt like I was watching a Doctor Who episode, only with a side of magic (maybe a Twelfth Doctor one, in which you never know where things are going) - and if you know me, this is meant as a huge compliment 😀 (BTW, the Doctor is even mentioned in one of the very first chapters!). The stakes are very high here: on one hand we have the disappearance of Harrison's adopted daughters, on the other an impending danger that might annihilate the post-Mayhem Wave world. All the characters are tested, pushed to their limits, and sometimes even fooled. Humans and not (a pixie and a ghost among them) are always challenged, and must put to use every single gift they possess, in what is, for all purposes, a teamwork (though there are a few tense and/or funny moments among the team members along the way). I must admit that a bit of the science behind the Mayhemsphere went to my head, but nevertheless, the danger(s) and the twists felt very real and were a blast to read about. Not to mention, I was caught completely off-guard by the final twist on the villain's motive. [...]

WELCOME TO THE SISTERHOOD

It's crystal clear that the authors enjoys writing about women. All the most interesting and complex characters in this book are female (sorry Harrison, you weren't actually at the top of your game in this one 😉). And Mayhem's Children is packed full of them, though of course only a few get a good chunk of screen time. The thing I love the most about them is how they are strong, but not necessarily badass - all their feelings and fears are accounted for. But boy, do they fight. And I don't necessarily mean they use a weapon, but more often than not, they rely on their courage, intelligence, resilience, and most of all, their heart. Also, Aubry experimented for the first time with a F/F relationship, which I reckon he got as right as possible, since he enlisted a sensitivity beta-reader for that part.

A PROMISE OF MAGIC

As with the previous installments in the series, Mayhem's Children doesn't end with a cliffhanger (seriously, didn't you hear the news? strong series don't need cliffhangers 😉). All the same, not only there's plenty of room for more adventures (and two more books are indeed on their way), but the final twist poses a lot of questions, and offers more than a chance for development. Magic is getting more and more important in the series, or at least more present (and exciting) than technology, though the latter still fuels the post-Mayhem Wave world and sometimes saves the day. I'm curious to see where this is all going.

For my "Prelude to Mayhem" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my "Static Mayhem" review (second installment in the series) click here.
For my review of Edward Aubry's book "Unhappenings" click here.
For my interview with Edward Aubry click here.
For more books that defy categories click here.

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