Confession: I haven't really read a ton of witchy books in recent years. As a young girl, I loved reading stories of witches and black magic, and I loved watching films (The Craft, Practical Magic, Hocus Pocus) and shows (Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch) that portrayed witches of all sorts. But as I got older, the more I veered away from that sort of subject matter in my stories. When I first heard about How to Hang a Witch however, I was intrigued.
The story, instead of revolving around witches, instead is narrated by Samantha Mather, the descendant of Cotton Mather, who just so happens to have been one of the men responsible for the very fact of the witch trials in Salem. When she and her stepmother move into the family home in Salem, Sam finds herself becoming instant enemies with a group known as the Descendants... who just so happen to be related to the witches put on trial. Throw in a centuries old curse that needs to be broken, a very cute neighbor boy, and one good-looking angry ghost, and what you get, my friends, is this novel.
Watching the entirety of this story unfold is like seeing a movie come to life before your eyes, especially because Mather (and yes, there is a relation to the infamous Cotton) is really good at setting the scene. She really nails the mysterious, spooky atmosphere of Salem, at least to someone who hasn't visited and only has impressions based on her personal impressions of the place. Plus, the story had a feel very much like The Secret Circle, which was pretty cool. But I was really interested in seeing how it unfolded!
Admittedly, if there are two things that I have to say something critical about, it's this: (1) I couldn't really get a proper connection going with any of the characters and (2) there were certain plot points that I found easy to guess at or unnecessary. But in spite of these reservations, I still wound up finding How to Hang a Witch to be a read that was worth the time I spent on it. Plus, after reading her author's note, I feel like I gained an extra perspective into how she chose to write this story, and I thought that was really cool too! So, my end verdict is that I'd definitely recommend How to Hang a Witch a shot if the story interests you at all.
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather | Series: How to Hang a Witch #1
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Source: ARC from the publisher (Thanks!)