Review: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather


How to Hang a Witch
By: Adriana Mather
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published: July 26, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy


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 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 is about to repeat itself.


My thoughts…

Sam has always had problems with making friends. It seems like those around her end up getting hurt. So, when she moves to Salem with her stepmother, she’s hoping to start over. However, it seems like since her arrival one thing after another has gone wrong. People are falling ill, getting weird rashes, and some are even showing up dead. All fingers point to Sam. It doesn’t help that she’s the descendant of Cotton Mather. Oh, and she not only sees a ghost from the witch trial era but is able to interact with him. Needless to say, Sam’s new start isn’t starting off so well.

How to Hang a Witch was a really interesting read. We all learn about the Salem witch trials at one point or another in school but it’s rare that you read about it in a fictional sense. Not to mention that the author is actually a descendant of Cotton Mather. That right there just kicks the book up a whole other level. It wasn’t just simply something an author decided to write, she kind of integrated her family’s history into a modern YA novel. There was just something about knowing she grew up with stories about her ancestors, and that her last name singles her out to those who are familiar with it was really intriguing when it came to reading this story.

Since all this weird stuff is happening since Sam’s arrival, people start to blame her. Not to mention there’s a ghost who keeps popping up, telling her that she needs to leave Salem. Suffice to say, you start to sort of realize that something isn’t right. Then people start falling ill and dying and that’s when Sam comes up with the notion that there’s a curse on her and the descendants from the witch trials. She sets off, with the help of the ghost, to try to break the curse before it kills those close to her. However, things aren’t as black and white as they seem and the author leaves you guessing up until the very end as to what’s going on and who’d behind the curse.

One thing I wasn’t overly thrilled with was the weird love triangle. As described in the synopsis, Sam comes in contact with a ghost… a good looking ghost. The fact that he is a ghost but he is still able to do every day things like pick up items, touch Sam, and yet no one can actually see him other than Sam, just confused me. I mean, I could understand if he could make things move or what not but the whole hand-holding and making out threw me. Plus, I mean, the guy is a ghost! I don’t understand why he had to be a romantic angle for Sam. They could have easily just been best friends and left it at that. Elijah’s romantic ties just confused me I guess.

How to Hang a Witch is a really entertaining story that will have you on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next. I honestly had no idea what was going on and was sort of holding my breath at every turn wondering if Sam was making a mistake. I liked that the author intertwined modern-day bullying with the Salem witch trials.


Favorite quote…

“I just did a spell with my next-door neighbor, and my best friend’s a spirit-who I’ve kissed. The word ‘impossible’ holds a much looser definition than it did in NYC.”



4 Thoughts on “Review: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

  1. Boo to the love triangle :/ but yessssssss to the Salem witch trials!

    • HaHa Yeah, I could have done without the love triangle… or any love interest for that matter. The story itself was very interesting and rich with history. I don’t think it needed to have a love interest at all.

  2. Say no more, the incorporation of her own family history already have me curious.

    • Knowing that she incorporated some of her history in the story definitely bumped up the book for me. Especially knowing that just her name alone has such a stigma attached to it. It wasn’t hard to envision people acting the certain way they did in the book since she herself has been given funny looks due to her name.

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