How to Hang a Witch
By: Adriana Mather
Release Date: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Knopf/Random House
Format: Print ARC
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 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 is about to repeat itself.
I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I started reading this book. I didn’t notice at first the author’s last name and that she shared it with her main character. Upon realizing that I had to flip to the back and make sure there was an author’s note (which there was). Knowing that the author was a Mather herself really added credibility to the story for me.
This story takes place in Salem present day but the main character has ties to the past- and not in a very popular way. I was really impressed with how the author handled Sam’s disconnect to those around her and the progression of bullying she faced in the town and school. It was hard to read at times but really tied together the past with present and the importance of not standing by while others are mistreated. I found the message to be very powerful and enjoyed that aspect of the book a good amount.
The town of Salem as well as the history of the Witch Trials was really interesting. I loved the little historical tid-bits and found the descriptions to be very vivid and clear. The author obviously knows this time period and history well and she incorporated it very well into her storyline.
Where things went a bit off for me was the romance in the novel. I never really felt anything towards the two and yes…there’s a slight triangle. I’m really not sure if everyone would consider it that but the main character does sort of feel things for two different people View Spoiler » « Hide Spoiler I felt that the main romantic element was rushed and I didn’t feel the chemistry between the characters.
Another thing that fell a bit flat to me was the big reveal. I felt it was pretty easy to predict and though it was dramatic I never really felt the tension I’d expect. I wasn’t all that invested in the secondary cast so I didn’t have the emotional attachment I’d have liked.
Regardless of the issues I had with How to Hang a Witch I did find it to be an enjoyable read and well worth the time. I thought the author did an excellent job adding in historical details. I loved that the author has an actual past with her story and used that to help develop and write this book. I think that aspect really added to the book.