Title: How to Hang a Witch (How to Hang a Witch, #1)
Author: Adriana Mather
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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.
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. (via Goodreads)
As you may or may not know, one of my current work-in-progress is an urban fantasy novel that involves witches, so when I heard about this book a few weeks before Adriana’s joint signing at Chevalier’s Bookstore with Charlotte Huang and my friend Julie Buxbaum, I already knew I had to read it.
They were definitely not exaggerating when they marketed “How To Hang A Witch” as “the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls” because that is exactly how I would describe the book. But it was also a lot creepier than I was expecting! There were several times where I got the chills while reading this book (and listening to the audio), but it was also just so fascinating! But probably the coolest and most unique thing about this book is that the author, Adriana Mather, is a direct descendant from one of the major figures in the Salem Witch trials! How insane is that!?
I haven’t really read a historical fiction before (I have a slight aversion to anything related to history because I disliked that class in high school) but this book had a slight historical contemporary feel to it. Surprisingly, however, I really didn’t mind! In fact, I was enthralled with the rich history contained in this book. I have never been to Salem or have really considered going there until I met Adriana and read her book. The rich and creepy history of Salem that she displayed in her book really caught my interest, and the fact that witchcraft and magic isn’t as far-fetched over there as it is in here in California. While reading I really felt as if I were in Salem because I could picture everything so vividly. That kind of proved to be a problem when all the creepy stuff was happening…
The main character is Samantha Mather and, like the author, is a direct descendant of Cotton Mather. I could relate to Sam in a lot of ways and often found myself sympathizing with her. Like Sam, I was bullied by a group of mean girls in school, felt/was alone in a new and unfamiliar school setting, and had trouble trusting people, particularly guys. Despite going through all this – in addition to her dad being in the hospital and having to deal with some scary witchcraft – Sam stays strong and focused on her goals. She’s tenacious, persistent, brave, and would do anything for loved ones. I also admired Sam’s sarcasm and sass. In short, she reminded me a lot of, well, me!
In case you were wondering, yes, there is a love-triangle in this story. But before you go rolling your eyes and dismissing this book completely, I think you should give it a chance and read it first. Just because there’s a love-triangle doesn’t always mean the story isn’t worth a read. It’s not even the main conflict in this book, which I was very grateful for. I also actually really liked both guys, but of course, as with all love-triangles I’ve come across, I’ve chosen a side. Haha At times it did get a little cheesy but I found it sweet, adorable, and entertaining.
The main antagonist was a bit predictable but the creepiness-factor and badassery of the showdown at the climax of the book made up for it. At that point in the story, I was on the edge of my seat and could not put it down until the end! But then it got past the climax and then I was just sad and my heart hurt for the characters. You’ll see why when you read it!
I can’t wait for the next book, Haunting the Deep! It’s related to the Titanic and I have been obsessed with anything related to that since I was a little girl and I watched the movie. It releases October 3, 2017!