So clearly, I’m in a retelling/re-imagining mode. But this book caught my eye in the bookstore for several reasons – I have friends who are Wiccan, and I have a fascination with witchcraft and all its forms, plus hello! Salem! I visited Salem many years ago and what a cool place, drenched in history!
And from history is where author Adriana Mather pulls her storyline. Much like Gaby Triana’s Wake the Hollow heroine Micaela, Mather’s protagonist, Samantha Mather, is whisked away to her family’s hometown of Salem by her stepmother, Vivian, after her father falls into a coma and is hospitalized. As the last name may clue in historians, Samantha (and the author!) is a descendant of Cotton Mather, a key figure in the Salem Witch Trials. For this alone, Sam is hated on sight by a group of girls (and one boy) at school who call themselves The Descendants (and you can guess from whom THEY descended to hate a Mather so much!). Living in the house of the grandmother she’d never met, Sam discovers there are mysteries to be uncovered. Her neighbor, Mable, has a son, Jaxon, who befriends Sam when no one else will look her way. With Sam’s arrival in town, members of the families of the Descendants suddenly start dying. What Sam finds out about the reasons why – with the help of a sexy ghost named Elijah – forces an uneasy alliance between Sam and several of the Descendants. Can they undo the curse before more of them die – including Sam’s own father?
How to Hang a Witch leans heavily on the history of Salem and the Witch Trials, though author Mather does take some liberties with fictionalization. However, it’s easy to see the thorough research woven skillfully through the fictional tale of the Witch Trial Descendants. This book, too, has a surprise ending that I did NOT see coming. A great read all around!