Author: Adriana Mather
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Series: How to Hang a Witch # 1
Hardcover, 368 Pages
Publication: July 26, 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
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.
Wow, How to Hang a Witch took me completely by surprise! What initially drew me to the book was the author herself, being a descendant of the infamous Cotton Mather. I think everyone knows of the Salem Witch Trials. I clearly remember learning about it during history class in junior year and have always been fascinated by the history and tales about witches in general. When I started this book, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, the author named the main heroine as a Mather and here I thought she was being narcissistic. But I was so wrong. Mather used her family history to spin one of the most intriguing stories I’ve ever read relating to the Salem Witch Trials. Mather expertly weaves Salem’s history with high school to create a modern-day witch hunt; with just the right amount of action, suspense, humor, creepiness and a touch of supernatural to keep readers on the edge of their seats and guessing at every turn.
Within the first page I knew I was going to like Sam. Sam is pretty much like any normal 15/16-year-old but due to some unfortunate incidents growing up, she puts up walls and people at a distance. It’s hard not to be cynical and standoffish when one is blamed for other’s misfortunes. So why do I like her? Because though the world keeps dealing her bad hands, instead of sulking in a corner pitying herself; she pushes back. These bad event did nothing but build and shaped her character/personality which is a strong, brave and snarky girl that doesn’t back down from anyone. What I liked about Sam was that she never let the bullies get the better of her. Her classmates, the entire school and town was all but ready to run her out of Salem but even when the odds were stacked against her, literally like 100 to 1, Sam continued to fight. Even if it meant putting herself directly in the path of danger to save others.
My favorite part is Mather’s storytelling. I was so engrossed in the story and the characters that time seemed to fly by. The story was beautifully written and well thought out. The mystery kept me constantly guessing and there were so many twist and turns that I lost count. Also, don’t be fooled by the light paranormal factor because there’s definitely that creepy icky feeling going on that literally gave me goosebumps! And seriously, I rarely get scared while reading.
It’s hard to believe that this is Mather’s debut book because she writes as if she’s been doing it for years. This book is pitched as a blend of Conversion and Mean Girls, which I find very appropriate. But while reading How to Hang a Witch, I kind of got that nostalgic vibe of the 90’s The Craft! I’ve always liked that movie and found some parts very reminiscent of it. If you’re looking for a fresh and engaging summer read, I highly suggest Mather’s How to Hang a Witch! It has a little bit of everything for everyone! It's a debut not to be missed. According to Goodreads this is a start of a new series which delights me to no end! Mather is an up and coming author to watch and I can't to see what she does next!