“How To Hang a Witch” by Adriana Mather

I heard of some others reading this book and though it’s not totally typical, I figured I’d give it a try.


Plot: Samantha and her step-mother Vivian head back to her father’s hometown of Salem, MA, because they can’t afford to keep living in New York. Her father, Charles, fell into a coma and is being moved to Boston to recover. Samantha is moving into her grandmother’s house. It turns out that Sam doesn’t have good luck – weird stuff always happens around her, driving her friends away. To make matters worse, her family is already known in the town because of the Salem Witch Trials. Her descendant, Cotton Mather, had a hand in starting the Trials and the current ancestors of those witches, called “The Descendants,” really don’t want Sam in town.

She meets Jaxon, her next door neighbor, and finds a secret library in her house with a notebook from her grandmother with research her grandmother had been doing about the location of the hangings of the witches. Jaxon pairs up with her in class to write a paper about the hanging locations and they go scouting in the area they figure out its supposed to be located, finding an old house that is usually difficult to find. In the house are crow feathers and her and her father’s names carved into the wall.

Later, she finds letters in her armoire – triggering a ghost to follow her, whose name is Elijah. His sister is the one who wrote those letters. She killed herself during the time of the Trials after the town turned on her. Elijah killed himself after figuring out that his fiancée was the one who started the rumors about his sister. Elijah wants Sam gone from the house – which he used to live in – and will help her figure out the hanging location in the process.

The Descendants – meanwhile – are making life difficult for Sam and the whole school essentially hates her. Jaxon and Sam go to a party where everyone but Sam gets a terrible rash. The students all think Sam did it. However, Elijah and Sam think that there is a curse on the town when all the descendants of those involved in the Trials are in Salem. Things start happening and people start dying. Three of the Descendants – who are indeed witches – take Sam to a location where they conduct a spell. Sam sees visions of the ancestors of the descendants and a boy crushed under some metal.

Later, she is at school and some history classes are putting on a play. One of the descendants, John, threatens Sam. She bites him and he throws her forward. She has another vision of a girl hanging from ropes. When she turns around, John is dead: crushed under metal just like Sam’s vision. The Descendants all think she did it – though the police ruled it an accident. Meanwhile, Sam is more convinced of the curse and is working with Elijah to solve it. She figures out that she’s being framed as a modern-day witch: an outcast. Sam and Elijah are falling in love – which is difficult considering he’s a ghost.

They figure out that they’ll try an actual spell to locate who the person is putting curses on the town, starting with a note that was left at the party with the rash. Sam works with Jaxon’s mother, Mrs. Merriweather, to make a spell. It shows a crow feather. Sam figures out that this is the crow woman that lived in the haunted house where the hangings were originally, and that this lady is actually Elijah’s fiancée, who somehow never died.

Sam finds out that the Descendants are missing and she’s pretty sure they are about the die. She makes some more spells, figuring out that her grandmother’s necklace is a protection spell, which protected her from the rash. It was given to her by Vivian – who is turns out is actually Elijah’s finacee and a powerful witch. Vivian had killed Sam’s mother and made her father fall in love with her all to get to this point: to bring all the Descendants back to Salem so she could actually revive Elijah. Vivian had done things around town because she was trying to get back at them for Sam. She has four of the Descendants standing on chairs with nooses about their necks. She needs Sam to willingly give her life in order to revive Elijah. Sam agrees to protect the four Descendants. A battle ensues and – basically – Sam beats Vivian, saving the Descendants. However, Elijah deems it best that he disappear, and his sister – Abigail – comes to collect him. The curse is broken, Sam’s father awakens, and everyone starts over knowing that Sam isn’t the bad witch in town.

This book was…alright. The writing was ok (though a lot of talking), but…I just did not like Sam. She annoyed the hell out of me. I get that she was cursed, but she was just…ridiculous. I can’t quite explain it, but she just seriously rubbed me the wrong way. The relationship with Elijah was alright and I did find him charming and funny. I was not surprised when it was Vivian. I had a feeling it was her or Mrs. Merriweather, so it’s not like the writing really hid the surprise. The story – overall – was okay, though it flitted from one turn to another almost too quickly. I did like the modern witch setting though so I might look into that more.

Anyway, it was alright. A quick read, so I’m not sad that I spent time on it.

Overall: 3/5

Have you read it? What did you think about it? Leave comments below!


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About ambfso

Currently in Portuguese language training. Next post: Sao Paulo, Brazil