I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: How to Hang a Witch #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 26, 2016
Source: the publisher
The more things change in Salem, the more they stay the same.
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous Witch Trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam is not exactly welcomed with open arms. She is a 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 wasn’t enough, Sam finds herself face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff.
Soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting everyone with ties to the Trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first alleged witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.
Those of you who know me, know that I’m OBSESSED with the Salem Witch Trials and all fictional (and some non-fictional) stories about them. So, of course, How to Hang a Witch has been on my TBR for a VERY long time. It ended up being an epicly amazing book and I’m SO SORRY I didn’t read it sooner!!! The plot was intriguing and the characters were incredible! Also, at times, this book managed to creep me out. You guys know I’m not easily creeped out by books, so the fact that this book pulled it off? *Bows to the awesome.*
I loved loved LOVED the atmosphere in this book – the cobblestone alleys and eerie black houses; the fact that the street Sam lives on is called Blackbird Lane; the wrought-iron fence with pointed spires; the bedroom, “everything’s antique and made of dark wood.” It gave me major Munsters vibes. Also, major Dark Shadows vibes.
I adored Sam. She’s strong, stubborn and resilient. I loved the way she just dove right into trying to unravel the curse. She also accepted help when she realized help was needed – from a ghost, but still! Speaking of ghosts, Elijah was !!!!!!! I don’t know what else to say about him, haha. I adored him! But the way his story ended had me !!!!!!!
Jaxon, on the other hand, frustrated me. He was basically a charming ass with a (sometimes) bad attitude. I feel like I’m full of contradictions in regards to my feelings on Jaxon and Sam. On the one hand, the romance moved way too fast, which was annoying. But on the other hand, Sam and Jaxon were adorable, so I didn’t mind. Also, normally I’d be super annoyed with a character going back and forth on whether her crush really likes her or has betrayed her to the “popular kids” (which Sam does a LOT in this book, re: Jaxon). But Adriana Mather wrote it so well, it was really believable. In the end though, despite my contradicting thoughts, I really didn’t ship Sam and Jaxon at all. Sigh.
I really loved the Descendants. They gave me major The Craft vibes – especially Lizzie = Nancy. I just wish we could have learned more about them as individuals. I would have loved more backstory! (Hey Adriana… Maybe we can get a prequel book, a story about the Descendants BEFORE Sam arrived in Salem?!?!?! PRETTY PLEASE WITH SUGAR ON TOP!!!!)
I don’t even know if this makes sense, but the tone of this book completely remindED me of a 90s/00s teen novel, and I LOVED IT! It reminded me of an old-school Caroline B. Cooney novel, or an R.L. Stine novel or something. I’ve only gotten this vibe once before when I read To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough.
The ending was insane and twisted and unexpected. It’s rare that I’m caught of guard by an ending, so it was incredible to actually be shocked by the shocking ending.
So basically… I really just loved the crap out of this book (the plot and the characters), and I highly, highly recommend it for those who love witches and, specifically, the Salem Witch Trials!