Here’s a somewhat newish young adult novel for all of you paranormal readers out there. Hailing way back from the year 2017 (positively ancient), comes this snappy book by Adriana Mather, How to Hang a Witch.
The scene: Salem Massachusetts. The premise: Samantha Mather moves to town to a stoic and cold welcome by local townsfolk. Hardly surprising since Samantha is an ancestor of Cotton, the one and only Mather who was instrumental in bring about the downfall of many of the town’s population during the Salem witch trials. Samantha becomes a particular unfavorable focus of ‘The Descendants,’ ancestors of those hanged during the very same trials.
People just cannot let go of a grudge!
To complicate matters, Samantha befriends the ghost of Elijah, another of the dearly departed locals, with a history of his own and a lot of baggage.
What unfolds is a slightly creepy, somewhat sassy, and generally enjoyable story about Samantha’s quest to befriend her enemies for the greater good, overcome all those teenagery angsty problems amidst a backdrop of family trials, and stave off a curse that could kill everyone.
It’s a pretty decent read if I do say so myself. The author has self-admittedly taken some liberties, but being that she is a 12th generation Mather herself, I say she’s entitled to.
The book reads well and the protagonist is generally relate-able and enjoyable. For once, this is a YA read in which the family of our main character are not fumbling through bad choices or completely oblivious to the struggles of their pox-marked know-it-all teen.
The ending was not a great shocker to me. I did spot the tell-tale “whose the nemesis” clues throughout the book. I also did get a little mixed up with all of those ‘magic tokens that save the day’ / ‘that one spell (or in this case a few spells) that shouldn’t have worked and did and saved them all in the end.’ It was an action packed finale to the novel with many working parts.
But I think this a read that a young adult audience will enjoy. They’ll relate to Samantha and the frustrations and trials she goes through. The history of the town is interesting and if for nothing more than a gateway for younger audiences to actually pick up a work of non-fiction and check out Salem’s history themselves, then this book hits the mark. It is also a clever analogy on the topic of bullying and about what happens when a community or group singles out an individual for unwanted attention.
And, let’s face it, if you are at home, alone, on a dark night and want a creepy read, this will do it.
This book was a 4/5 for me.