Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal Fiction, Fantasy & Magic
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It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, 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.\r\n\r\nSalem, 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?\r\n\r\nIf 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.\r\n
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather caught my attention because the author is actually a descendant of Cotton Mather, and she traveled to Salem and did an incredible amount of research before writing this book. I was also intrigued that the audiobook is narrated by the author, which I usually like, because the listener gets to hear it exactly as the author intended. And I thought the Mean Girls/The Craft vibe sounded fun, so I was all in. I liked the beginning – there were some unexplained events, a little spookiness, and all seemed very promising. I did wonder why it took our girl Samantha so long to start putting things together, though. The main issue that I had once I got into the story was the lack of character development. I really wanted to like the characters, but most of them just didn’t have much depth and were pretty stereotypical (Descendants, I’m looking at you…). I did like the twist, even though I had already figured at least part of it out. It still felt right, and I liked the way the final scenes played out. Unfortunately, this was the one time when I didn’t enjoy listening to the author. Her inflection wasn’t great, and what started off as an attempted accent for the character of Elijah was just awful. And speaking of Elijah, I had some issues with this character from the beginning. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’ll remain vague on that matter. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the love triangle, but it was never front and center of the story. I did really like the historical aspect, and it made me want to learn more. I also liked the social message, about how one person can break a cycle if they have the courage to speak out and do something differently. I’ve been more critical than I expected to be, but I did enjoy the story. It was a nice start to the fall reading season, and made me crave more witchy, spooky stories. If you’re looking for a quick read that is supernatural but not TOO creepy, with a little history stirred in, then this will be right up your alley.
“Almost everything worth believing in cannot be seen. Love, for instance.”