How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 26, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 396 Format: ARC Source: BEA
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.
I acquired this ARC from the publisher at Book Expo America. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
For someone who loves fantasy so much, I surprisingly do not read a lot of witch related books in a contemporary setting. That being said I’m so glad I picked up How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. It was a narrative fraught with peril and pain, trust and fear yet with hope for the future. Samantha, Elijah, The Descendants, and the rest of Salem’s journey captivated me and I just couldn’t put it down.
I’ve always wanted to visit Salem, Massachusetts and with this book I was able to get a glimpse into what it would be like. Such a well known place for such terrible acts and this history still sticks around to this day. It permeates every sidewalk, house, cemetery, dripping from the tops of tombstones. This story really captured how the history of a place seeps out for all to see and I absolutely loved it.
I’m so impressed with how Adriana Mather took her family history and wove it into a fascinating narrative for a new age. Her curiosity and intrigue led her to Salem and to research the past, to look deeper into the complexities of Cotton Mather as well as the town itself. It made the reading experience more authentic and exciting to know that she took such care in her writing.
I feel like a lot of this story should be discovered for one’s self but I do want to touch on the parallels between Sam’s life in Salem and the Witch Trials. Sam has struggled to fit in her whole life and it’s hard for her to trust other people. Faced with the harassment of her classmates, fear sets in and she pushes away those who are trying to help. Bullying and persecution have become so commonplace and the author does an excellent job of conveying how we can learn from and even rectify those mistakes.
Overall I so so so enjoyed Adriana Mather’s How to Hang A Witch. It was the perfect amount of creepy and compelling with a little romance to boot. A story of discovery and understanding, of how fear can tear us all apart. Sam’s arc had plenty of twists and turnsm keeping me glued to the page. I definitely recommend this one and it will make for a perfect Halloween read.
So are you excited for How to Hang a Witch? Do you enjoy creepy stories? Have you ever stayed somewhere haunted? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!