I don’t typically read horror novels, as they’re just not something that I enjoy – kind of like my feelings in regards to horror movies. I’ll be honest, I am a scaredy cat and so I would rather not put myself in that situation. However, when I first saw How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather at the bookstore and read the synopsis, I was immediately intrigued.
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.
- Setting – I’m a bit of a history nerd. I love any place that has history coming out the wazoo, and Salem, Massachusetts? Yeah, that town definitely has some history. It really added to the plot and was able to give it that spooky edge, even for just only being the location for the story. Now I want to go there for a mini vacation in the fall. Who wants to join me in 2017?!
- Pacing – I really appreciated that this book was solidly engaging from the beginning till the end. In my experience, debut authors can sometimes struggle with their pacing but I didn’t find that to be an issue for Mather. I never found myself bored and or struggling to make myself pick up the book. Instead, I hated when I had to make myself put it down! I just had to know what was going to happen next!
- The Plot – This was the best part about this book. It’s quite obvious that Mather is well-connected to the entire Salem Witch Trials, as she is able to really mix some minor stories and details from that era within the plot. I loved how she was able to use the different causes of the Trials, and expand upon how they are still issues in today’s society. I think it made Sam’s struggles and own persecution within the high school and community much more real and terrifying. It’s extremely easy to see how something like that has the potential, at any moment, to return in modern society. And I even agree with Mather that a high school or small town would be the most likely arena in which to take effect.
- Samantha – In all honesty, I almost DNFed this book after the first chapter. As intrigued as I was in the plot, Samantha’s character was annoying as hell. I cringed almost every single time that she had an inner thought. And trust me, there were way too many of those in this book. I feel as though Mather was attempting to have Sam talk like what middle aged adults think 17 year olds talk like. Except Mather can’t be older than her early 30’s? So yeah, it was just really awful. And talk about a whiner… I wanted to slap Sam every time she had a poor-pitiful-me moment. Ugh, I hate those kind of characters.
- The Romance – Jaxon was just too perfect, too much of the good guy. He was boring and I never felt like there was much of a buildup between him and Sam. Almost kind of instalove, because she thought he was OMG SO HOT the first time that she saw him. Plus, I was a huge fan of the dead guy. He was a sarcastic jerk, and we all know how I feel about that type. Yummm.
Overall, if you’re looking for a fairly fast read full of mystery, ghosts, and witches – then I think you will find How to Hang a Witch fits exactly what you’re looking for. It will never win an award for best writing, but it will surely entertain you on a cold dark night.
Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars
Have you read How to Hang a Witch? What did you think about it? Did you find Samantha as annoying as I did?