How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published on July 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Ghosts, Paranormal, Young Adult
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For fans of Conversion and Mean Girls, comes a debut novel where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.
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.
Witches are one of my favorite paranormal/supernatural entities. Like, I prefer them (and ghosts/demons) to vampires and werewolves for sure. So I get super grabby-handsy whenever I hear about a book with witches. Even better, it involves Salem style witches. Historically relevant witches. This could have either been lame and trying to hard, or awesome. Fortunately, it was AWESOME. The Salem Witch Trials is one of the more fascinating things in history (to me anyway…) and it turns out the author is a descendant of one of the people that was involved in the witch trials! Very cool. So I felt more confident in her abilities to portray a story connected to Salem, since there is a more personal interest for her.
This book flies by, and it had me hooked easily from the beginning. Samantha (Sam) is great. Snarky and smart, and (lucky girl) the focus of a love triangle. (No, but I actually hate love triangles, but there is literally only one REASONABLE way this one could have played out, so I found it tolerable.) Elijah was so swoon-worthy! GAH. Jaxon is fine I guess. But he is no Elijah. Just sayin’. So anyway, there is romance, obviously, but this is not really a love story. It is definitely about magic and history.
I see why it is compared to Mean Girls, but I really wish they would stop comparing things to Mean Girls. It is one of my all time faves, but geez. Come on. Yes, there are “mean girls”, AKA the Descendants, who are the direct descendants to lines of witches. They rule the school, obviously. Then of course at some point Sam is forced to team up with them to put an end to a curse that has haunted their families for centuries. During this time, Sam starts to experience what it must have been like to be hung at the trials, and accused of things you did not do. The whole town starts to turn on her. Very exciting stuff.
I love the glimpses back in history, and the overall haunting atmosphere. The end was crazy good, even if somewhat predictable. It kind of has you on the edge of your seat for a few minutes! This is going to be the perfect Halloween read; it just feels like it should be read during the fall. It is going to be the perfect October book (even though it comes out in the summer). This was just such a great story about witches and it incorporated Salem and it’s history so well. Im excited that this is going to be a series, and this first book has set the bar pretty high and given us a great glimpse at what we have to look forward too!
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