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Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

For Witch Trial Descendants, History Always Repeats Itself in Salem ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With a surname like Mather, you're bound to get some attention in Salem, Massachusetts.  Even 300+ years after the Witch Trials.  Samantha, a 16-year-old descendant of Cotton and Increase Mather—key players in the Trials—isn't so keen on moving away from New York City in the first place.  When she almost immediately becomes the target of a group of mean girls nicknamed The Descendants, she's even less thrilled with her new hometown.  Can these kids, whose ancestors were convicted as witches with the help of Sam's forebears, really be holding a centuries-old grudge?  Apparently so.

As if that's not bad enough, there's a ghost haunting Sam's grandmother's home.  Elijah Roe is handsome (for a dead guy), but he's not exactly the chillest (pun intended) house guest.  The only bright spot in Sam's move is her next-door neighbor.  Unlike her classmates and resident apparition, Jaxon is kind and welcoming.  It doesn't hurt that he's good-looking enough to make Sam blush.  

Sam just wants to settle in and get on with life, but it soon becomes apparent that Salem has other ideas for her.  She, like everyone in town with a connection to the Trials, is at the center of an age-old curse.  To stop it, she'll have to enlist the help of her handsome haunt as well as The Descendants.  Only then, can Sam stop the ruinous cycle that ensures history always repeats itself in Salem.

Ever since I heard that a descendant of Cotton Mather was writing a YA novel about the Salem Witch Trials, I knew I had to read it.  How to Hang a Witch, Adriana Mather's literary debut, also boasts an intriguing, spine-tingling premise that seems to guarantee an exciting, engrossing read.  Imagine my disappoint then when I found the story to be just ho-hum.  While I liked its creepy, atmospheric setting, the novel's characters fell flat for me, never developing past cardboard teenage clichés.  The plot also struck me as choppy and clumsy, dragging in some parts, and making no sense at all in others.  These irritants combined with stilted dialogue, insta-lovey romance (x2), and some major melodrama soured me on How to Hang a Witch.  I wanted to adore this one, but it turned out to be pretty meh for me.  Since I can't resist books about the Titanic, I might give its sequel a go, but probably not.  Oh well.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of How to Hang a Witch from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


  1. That's too bad about this one. This one actually sounds like one I might like. I may still read it, lol.

  2. I agree with Jenni Elyse - a shame, but I might still try it. Interesting that the author is connected to the Mathers.

  3. Aw! Dang. And you even bought a copy. So depressing.

  4. Such potential, too bad it fell apart. I was getting all excited reading the beginning of your review.

  5. That's too bad about the flat characters and choppy plot. It had so much potential and there is no way I would have resisted it either. I may still get it from the library but I'll keep my expectations low.


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