How To Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather, 368 pages, Knopf Books For Young Readers, July 26th 2016, Genre: Young Adult/Horror/Fantasy/Paranormal. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
Samantha Mather’s returning to Salem to live in the old family homestead. When her father went into a coma, her step-mother Vivian sold their New York home to save money so they could afford her dad’s medical treatment and to be closer to him as he had been moved to Boston. Sam is resistant, but feels a bit better once she meets their bakery-owning neighbor Mrs. Meriwether and her son Jaxon, a dreamy upperclassman at Salem High.
Salem has a dark history, never buried, always vibrant and a source of tourism and pride for the town. Unfortunately for Sam, being a descendant of Cotton Mather marks her as the least liked person in town. She draws the ire of “the descendants”, a tight knit mean girls group directly descended from the accused witches of the Salem Witch Trials. When bad things start happening and people start dying, everyone starts whispering that Sam’s cursed. Sam also befriends a ghost who helps her solve the riddle of the town’s curse.
Our culture is fascinated with winning, power, and violence, so I’ve always wondered why some people are so surprised that some kids bully. People bully others when they feel they’ve been wronged or are jealous. They do so when they are or were bullied themselves, trying to escape a constant feeling of powerlessness by forcing powerlessness onto others. They may have low self-esteem, or be influenced by being part of a pack led by a bully. Sure, plenty of people suffer these things and don’t turn to bullying. But bullies haven’t developed mechanisms to express themselves or seek confidence and self-empowerment through less damaging means. For them, winning is all that matters, and the methods they employ to win are always justified in their own minds.
The hysteria among kids and adults builds slowly over the course of the book, giving insight into how mass hysteria starts and spreads. Mather does an excellent job of linking the theme of modern bullying with the motives and events of the Salem Witch Trials. The plot was engaging, the pacing was perfect. There is a love triangle which added to rather than detracted from the book. The mean girls were mean, but they were human. I could still feel for them when bad things happened to them. This book features Salem, witches, ghosts, an old curse, high school rivalries, and secret rooms. What’s not to love?
I’d recommend this book to fans of young adult fiction. This book can be found at How To Hang A Witch .
Watch the Book Trailer:
The #1 New York Times bestseller!
It’s the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in this New York Times bestselling 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.
“It’s like Mean Girls meets history class in the best possible way.” —Seventeen Magazine
“Mather shines a light on the lessons the Salem Witch Trials can teach us about modern-day bullying—and what we can do about it.” —Bustle.com
“Strikes a careful balance of creepy, fun, and thoughtful.” —NPR
I am utterly addicted to Mather’s electric debut. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, twisting and turning with ghosts, witches, an ancient curse, and—sigh—romance. It’s beautiful. Haunting. The characters are vivid and real. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down.” —Jennifer Niven, bestselling author of All the Bright Places
About the Author:
Adriana Mather is the 12th generation of Mathers in America, with family roots stretching back to the first Thanksgiving, the Salem Witch Trials, the Revolutionary War, and the Titanic. Adriana co-owns Zombot Pictures, a production company that makes feature films. In addition to producing, Adriana is also an actress. She lives in Los Angeles where she has a life full of awesome, cats, and coffee.