Title: How to Hang a Witch
Author: Adriana Mather
Publication Date: 26th July 2016
Publisher: Knopf Books
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy
Format: Physical Copy (ARC)
(I received this ARC as a gift from an author friend of mine.)
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.
As soon as I got my hands on the copy of this book, I knew off the bat that I would love it. Though admittedly I did have some worries prior to opening the first page, as witchcraft, magic and anything with such a complex and deep history like the Salem Trials do, I panicked that it wouldn’t get brought across completely and it wouldn’t be an up to par bundle of informative back story and fiction. But, well boy, wasn’t I wrong! Adriana has completely blew the lid off all things witchcraft with this unique and twisty turn on the Salem trials.
Starting with Samantha Mather, the main protagonist in this story. Sam is what I would call anything other teenager her age, completely in her own head and everything is how she sees it. Though in spite of her being like any teenager would be, she does have some quirks, and the majority I found very relate to. The fact she is a loner and finds it hard to make friends, as well as how she takes everything-even the impossible-in her stride is admirable. Not only how she deals with all of that, but how she also takes everything-even with the pain and humiliation-that the Descendants throw her way. At the end of the day, she is adamant to make her voice-her family’s voice-heard, and prove that nothing is as it really seems.
When it comes to the Descendants, they reminded me so much of the four girls from the movie ‘The Craft’. All four of these girls are unique, followed by Lizzie and John, and portray that of a witch’s ancestor very well-they hold their families close as well as their beliefs. So when Sam comes back to Salem and everything starts taking that turn for the worse, who else to blame but the girl who is a descendant of Cotton Mather. The man who apparently was the prime cause of those hangings. (FUN FACT: Adriana Mather-the author-is a descendant of the actual Cotton Mather!) Though even for them, nothing is really is as it seems. So it was interesting to see the descendants of both the accused party and the ones who were wrongly committed come together with a common interest to really find out what is going on.
Here appears Elijah, the boy-well technically we should say man-who has Sam’s back the entire time throughout the book. This character, he was the one I stuck by from beginning to end, his loyalty, passion and love that fueled his heart and kept him going; that captured my heart. It’s what I found interesting about this story, is that each character has a story to tell of their own, and we learn each along the way, and how each one intertwines with another. Elijah’s story is one that reminded me very much of the story of Thackery Binx in ‘Hocus Pocus’. The profound love he had for his little sister, Abigail, and how not a soul would ever come between them-that he’d do anything to protect her. And in turn, because of this, he took that protective streak, and went on to protect and help Sam in any way possible. To see both sides of the coin, Elijah’s story with his sister and his story with Sam, it warmed my heart to see how far he’d really go for both of these girls. Even if the ending is bittersweet.
There are always those mismatch minor characters who we don’t really know who to trust, because you always think they’re going to turn out bad or even good sometimes. Jaxon for one I think was that perfect friend that Sam needed, even if it was supposed to secretly be forced at first. Just like Elijah he wouldn’t let Sam do this alone, and in spite of not being completely on her radar in terms of the researching and the quest, he still stuck by her. Everyone needs friends like Jaxon and Elijah, just saying! Also, my radar was completely off with this one, I was blaming the wrong person the entire time, nothing really sunk in until the very last few chapters. This I found really interesting, because it really felt like I was Sam going on this little quest-adventure-of sorts to find out the truth of it all. I felt her pain, her happiness, her love, her heartbreaks, her bravery and triumphs.
Falling lastly to the very bittersweet ending, for those of you who have seen ‘Hocus Pocus’ you will know exactly what I mean when you read it. The ending of this book consumed me in such a way, it was both beautifully good and heart-wrenching, knowing that that was the ultimate ending. I was in that state of telling myself it was not real, because it was too bittersweet. In every book saying goodbye to characters is really hard, but I struggled so badly saying goodbye to a certain one this time, because it was between that state of ‘so close yet so far’ in the battle sequence of sorts at the very end. Damn you, Adriana!
All in all, I would re-read this book a thousand times over and never get bored of it. I would live these characters lives a million times over, and they’d never get old. And there would never be a time that I wouldn’t go on this adventure all over again, because I would meet Elijah an infinite amount of times if possible!
If you’ve read this book, tell me: Would you rather choose Jaxon or Elijah?!