How To Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 26 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?
If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.
After a bit of a rocky start, I actually really enjoyed this book. It had the perfect mix of magic and mystery, complete with a ghost side kick and some witchy bit… sorry, “friends”.
Sam has no idea why the so-called “descendants” hate her, even if she is a descendant of Cotton Mather. Honestly, when I first started the book and got to this part, I was ready to give up and call it a day. I mean, come on. The Descendants?
But I decided to stick with it and I am really glad I did. Despite their cringe-worthy group name, and Sam’s cringe-worthy ability to make a fool out of herself at every turn (which by the way is a very annoying trope), How To Hang a Witch was actually a kind of amazing book.
I loved the witch lore and history of the Salem Witch Trials. I loved Elijah the ghost, and I even ended up loving the descendants. Sam, too, became a much more interesting character as the book went on… mostly due to some amazing character development and less of the lets-make-Sam-super-clumsy-in-order-to-move-the-plot-along.
The ending of this book was actually a total surprise, and I loved it. Honestly, after I got past the first quarter or so of the book, I could barely put the book down. Even the weird love-v-thing between Sam, Elijah, and Jaxon (who has no idea that Elijah even exists) doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. Yes, I didn’t LOVE Jaxon (totally team Elijah on this one), but he still had some endearing qualities, and by the end I found myself quite liking him, thank you very much.
Sam’s narration had a very young voice, but considering she is 15 in the book, it makes sense. It got on my nerves a little at the beginning of the book, but the more I read, the more I appreciated it… kind of like everything else in the book.
So I know this review focuses more on what I didn’t like about the book, but let me just say that How To Hang A Witch was actually kind of amazing. I am definitely going to be getting the sequel, Haunting the Deep. I would recommend this book to people who love supernatural things (especially witches!!), young adult mysteries, or are just looking for an quick, intriguing read.
I am going to give How To Hang A Witch four out of five hearts.
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