ARC Review: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

ARC Review: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
How To Hang a Witch
by Adriana Mather

Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
Publication date: July 26th, 2016
Format: ARC


Amazon | Book Depository

For fans of Conversion and Mean Girls, comes a debut novel 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.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

I have always been morbidly fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials so when I came across this book, I was instantly drawn to it. I think a lot of things about this book seem a little far fetched but reading the author’s note did help me understand a little about some of the decisions that were made and where she was coming from.

For example, it seems unreasonable that people in a town would still hold ancestor actions against teens. Like that teen didn’t do the deed, so chill the fuck out. It was pretty hard to wrap my head around or even let go of my skepticism while reading so I decided to read the author’s note and it turns out her father experienced similar things growing up (she is a descendant of Cotton Mather.)

One of my favorite parts about this book was how the paranormal and suspense elements worked together to suck me in. Mather has clearly done her research and she brought history to life in such a captivating way in the book. I loved connecting dots and I loved the history of the curse and how everything was spread out throughout the book.

I also liked that the “mean girls” plot was dropped pretty quickly after the first initial bitchy counters because again, holding grudges against people for what their ancestors did (like 200+ years ago) is silly. I mean there was still a mean girl but she wasn’t really a big part of the book so she doesn’t count.  

What was kind of upsetting though is that there really weren’t a lot of great relationships to be found in this book. Sam tends to push people away and  has never had real friends because she is bad luck (which by the way, was never really explored so I didn’t understand the whole her being bad luck for people around her.) She makes a friend (very quickly might I say) who she also pushes away for his own good. And then there is her relationship with her step mother. I am getting tired of the evil stepmother trope and while her stepmother isn’t the actual worst, I wish there was at least one ~real~ positive adult/kid relationship in the book. 

Sam as a character is not the best because she was a little whiny and occasionally one-dimensional but I also think she worked for the purposes of the book. I wasn’t that annoyed with her and was invested in her future but I also didn’t love her.

Overall though, the book was a pretty addicting and fast read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is fond of family curses, the paranormal, and a quick book. AND THERE WILL BE A SEQUEL apparently so I am excited to see where things will go for Sam and her fam (isn’t that a great rhyme? I should be a poet.)

Rating Report
Overall: 3.6
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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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  1. says

    Ouuu Rashika I hadn’t heard of this one but like you, i’m pretty fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials and that part of history (is fascinated the right word? Maybe…interested?). I’m not quite sure but i’d defiitely be willing to give this one a shot since it’s got in an intriguing premise that sets it right in modern time while still connecting with the past.
    Lovely review :)

  2. says

    The premise of this definitely interests me, but I agree, who on earth is going to hold a grudge for her ancestors holding the trials 200 YEARS AGO??? Even in the town of Salem itself? I am basically a professional grudge holder and even I find that ridiculous. I think that overall this book doesn’t really sound interesting enough for me but I HOPE YOU ENJOY THE SEQUEL BETTER WHEN IT DOES COME OUT.
    Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey recently posted…Review: Second Chance SummerMy Profile

  3. says

    Hmm, I wonder what I’d think of this. For me, the relationships in a book really sustain the story more than the plot can–or does–so I’m skeptical about whether I’d enjoy this nearly as much as you did. Still, the paranormal aspects to this sound really fantastic and it’s been a long time since I read a good book with witches and curses. Thanks for putting this on my radar, dear, and fantastic review–as always! :)
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabMy Profile

  4. says

    I’m also quite fascinated with the Salem Witch Trial, and while it seems really ridiculous, I also get why they would still hold grudges for things their ancestors did 200 years ago. They’re still hurt and still label the family as something that caused so many deaths. Idk, town with old families tend to keep bring their history to the present time. It’s sounds interesting though, even though the main character sounds annoying :D
    Tasya recently posted…Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

  5. says

    I’m always down for a book about the Salem Witch trials because I find it so interesting and fascinating. It sounds like a good creepy read, and I’m way more interested since it sounds like such a quick read. Great review!

  6. says

    I used to read about the Salem Witch Trials all the time :D so this book looks pretty interesting… I’m not that fond of mystery or paranormal but maybe I’ll try this one. Awesome review, as always!