Title: How to Hang a Witch
Author: Adriana Mather
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
About: 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.
You guys, I love witches so much. So, so much. And I especially love when things relate to the Salem Witch Trials, because that shit is bananas. This should have been a home run for me, but unfortunately, How to Hang a Witch flew far below my expectations.
My problems with this book were many:
- The whole time I was reading this something bugged me about the overall story and I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I hit the end - there's a Buffy book with the same basic premise that I read when I was younger (Night of the Living Rerun) and it pulls it off better.
- Sam is described as having a great relationship with her stepmother, Vivian, but is terrible to her the entire book. They fight a lot, Sam walks away in the middle of conversations. There isn't a lot of love shown between the two of them, which is fine, but then don't describe them as specifically having a great relationship.
- The Descendants as a group aren't fleshed out enough. They all wear black and are named after their ancestors that were in the witch trials (super weird, btw). I feel like it's set up to be a Craft-like situation, but it never really gets there.
- The ghost romance is lame and stupid. Meg Cabot does it better.
- The love triangle never really surfaces for me. It's like she spends a bunch of time with Jaxon when she first gets to town (Jaxon - ugh cutesy spelling). Then the ghost reveal happens and she starts spending a lot of time with Elijah and Jaxon fades into the background. Then Jaxon comes back into the picture and Elijah literally fades into the background (get it, because he's a ghost, wink wink nudge nudge).
- The scene at the end with Elijah and his sister is literally the end of Hocus Pocus. He might as well have said, "I had to wait 300 years for a VIRGIN to light a CANDLE."
- The witchcraft was weak. It was like how Little Mix's video for "Black Magic" was supposed to be an homage to The Craft, but turned out really stupid. Listen, I take my witchy books seriously, but I'm not asking for a lot, just make it believable. Being able to pick up witchcraft at the drop of a hat and being able to cast very complex spells with absolutely no practice are things I can't get over. You PRACTICE witchcraft - keyword practice.
- The characters were really boring and the ghosts were always convenient.
So, yeah. This whole book was a combination of The Craft, Hocus Pocus, and the Mediator series, some of my favorite things ever, but even that couldn't save it. The premise of this one rocked, the ancestors of everyone involved in the Salem Witch Trials getting sucked into this repetitious cycle of badness, kicked off when the new girl moves to town. Unfortunately, I had a ton of problems with the execution and I just couldn't look past them.