Author: Adriana Mather
Genre: Young Adult | Mystery | Witches
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
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 (goodreads).
How to Hang a Witch is the perfect read for a younger audience.
Plot: How to Hang a Witch wasn't t afraid to use every cliche in the book: young girl and her mother moved from the big city to small sleepy Salem, boy next day took an interest in the new girl, new girl got on the bad side of the popular kids, and ghosts appeared with vague references to the past.
From the first few pages, How to Hang a Witch felt more like a MG read than a YA that borrowed heavily from a lot of formulaic books in the genre. Sam's father has fallen into a coma that no one can solve, so she and her step mom moved Salem to be closer to her father who was under the care of facilities in Boston. In Salem, she was immediately the focus of everyone in town because of something her ancestor did during the Salem Witch Trials.
While the book boasted witchcraft and sorcery, it was unusually witch lite with the local witches only performing small spells to bully others. If you have a young reader who prefers fun Halloween instead of creepy Halloween, this would be the perfect go to.
The only praise I can give How tTo Hang a Witch is how the conflict was resolved and the mystery revealed itself. It was fairly surprising and was the main reason I'm giving this book 3 stars.
Characters: To say that Sam annoyed the hell out of me would be an understatement. She was unnecessarily defensive, and her sarcasm was rather juvenile. I did respect her relationship with her stepmother though. I expected Sam to follow the path of "I hate my parents and especially my stepmother," but they were surprisingly protective of each other, which was refreshing.
Worldbuilding: I've always been in love with the idea of Salem with its rich history and creepy stories, and I have to say that Mather did a great job with fleshing out the small sleepy town. Mather's depiction of Salem was exactly what I expected and has me wanting to visit even more than anything now.
Short N Sweet: How to Hang Witch was a bit too much fun and juvenile for my tastes, but readers who don't like the things that go bump in the night may appreciate this one more!