Thursday, December 20, 2018

Teen/YA Review: How To Hang a Witch

I think the title of today's review book makes it clear just how far behind I am in writing reviews! I began listening to How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather back in October, as the perfect end to my two months of spooky reading for the RIP Challenge this fall. I finished this intriguing teen/YA novel that mixes history and fantasy in early November. I'm glad I finally found time to review it because I really enjoyed it.

When Samantha's father is moved to a special hospital near Boston because of his lengthy coma, Samantha and her stepmother move into an old family house in Salem, to be closer to her dad. Their last name is Mather (yes, descended from the infamous Mathers who were involved in the Salem Witch Trials), and her father grew up in this house but hadn't been back there in decades, so Samantha has never seen it. When Samantha starts going to her new high school in Salem, she runs into trouble right away. There is a group of teens at school who call themselves the Descendants because their ancestors were among the women who were victims of the witch trials. They dress all in black and are immediately hostile to Samantha whose ancestors were on the wrong side of history. Things aren't much better back at home in her father's childhood house, where a handsome but angry ghost is not happy that Samantha has moved into his sister's old room and is touching her things. Before long, what starts as minor pranks and meanness aimed at Samantha and the Descendants turns deadly, and the enemies must band together before their town succumbs to another period of trauma and death. Samantha begins to figure things out with the help of her ghost friend, some historical research, and old diaries she finds in a hidden room of the house, as well as the kindness and help of the next-door neighbors, a cute guy who goes to her school, and his mom, who was her dad's childhood friend.

Notice that the author of this novel is also a Mather, and yes, descended from those same Mathers. Her own family history led her to research details of the Salem Witch Trials and incorporate them into her modern YA novel. She is also an actress, and that shows in her story, filled with dramatic twists and turns. This book was perfect for October, with witches and a ghost, too, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it on audio. The tension builds as the mysteries surrounding Salem and its famous history grow. It's a complex, suspenseful, dark mystery steeped in real-life history that is packed with surprises.

368 pages, Ember
Listening Library

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook.

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  1. I like that the author is a descendent and used her research from her interest in her family to write a fiction book. Perhaps it will help get some teens interested in history.

    1. Yes, it's a very cool back-story! I noticed there is also a book 2 (though I thought it wrapped up well) and she has a brand-new book coming out soon, too.