Contemporary · Horror · Mystery · Paranormal · Review · Thriller · Young Adult

Book Review: How to Hang a Witch

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.

The Good

  • 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.

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The Bad

  • 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?

25 thoughts on “Book Review: How to Hang a Witch

  1. Yes, I’d say Salem, Massachusetts has a little bit of history going for it, haha. Ergh, isn’t an overabundance of inner thoughts annoying? When that happens, I keep thinking “get to the story already!” Other than that, though, this sounds like a book I might really enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luckily they were only usually only a couple of sentences. But they definitely highlighted how immature Sam was and I think Mather’s writing as well. Good thing the story itself was fun enough that it doesn’t detract Too much from the overall experience. I hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is on my radar because of the Salem thing; when on holiday in Boston a few years back I mortified my husband by dragging him to Salem so I could do a little one woman show of The Crucible in the memorial area. He loved it. I’ll bear in mind this “annoying character” issue if I pick up the book.

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  3. You had my excitement building until you reached the annoying protagonist criticism. If she’s awful enough to make you almost DNF after the first chapter, I can’t imagine I’d like her any better. It’s always upsetting when an otherwise pretty good book is burdened with an annoying lead. Maybe I’ll give the book a shot anyway, but it won’t be at the top of my TBR anytime soon.

    Great review! I appreciate the warnings. =)

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    1. Yeah, the first chapter was a bit rough. But I wanted to at least give it a few more chapters to see if the plot could overcome Samantha’s issues. Luckily, it did for me and as the story progresses, there is improvement in the characterization area. I think I was especially bothered by her in the beginning because I’m almost 26 years old and I just don’t connect with immature high school characters as much as I might have a few years ago. I connected wayyy more with the ghost. I thought he was a riot. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad that your patience paid off, at least a little!

        As a fellow adult, I feel you. The most visceral experience I’ve had of I’m-Too-Adult-For-This-(But-My-Gothy-Teen-Self-Would’ve-Been-All-Over-It) is Throne of Glass. I would’ve been obsessed with the book as a teen, but reading it for the first time this summer was an exercise in not rolling my eyes straight out of my head. Which is a shame; I wish my teen self could’ve had a chance to obsess over it.

        If I do read this book, I’ll be especially excited about the ghost. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I wasn’t very impressed with Celaena when I read ToG either. I do think she’s improved with each book a bit, but I feel like that series is like a guilty pleasure – you enjoy it, even if you don’t want to 😂.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And yes, I totally got some Zachary Binx vibes from him. That ending reallyyyyy made me think of Hocus Pocus when I was reading it. I have to wonder if she was watching it while she was writing that scene. 😂

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  4. LOL@ middle aged people trying to talk like a 17-year-old. I always hope I can spare others from it once I get to that point :’). It can be hard to keep on reading if you really can’t stand an MC, but I’m glad it worked out well in the end for ya. Entertainment for on a cold dark night is basically what I’m always looking for ;). Awesome review Larkin!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha well sometimes it’s just really obvious that no one talks that way! It was way more juvenile than any 17 year old I know would talk like. But yes, it definitely got better as the story moved along and it was certainly entertaining. Thank you! 😊

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