How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is an atmospheric duology that I struggled to put down. Inspired by the author’s own family history, this series puts a modern spin on the Salem Witch Trials and the Titanic. The investigative elements in both books build suspense, and I found the main character easy to root for. I was especially impressed with the author’s skill in integrating the past and the present, making this a great series for fans of both contemporary and historical fiction.Title: How to Hang a Witch, The Haunting Deep
Series: How to Hang a Witch
Author: Adriana Mather
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery
Publication Date: July 26, 2016- Oct. 3, 2017
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.
Series Review: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Having just moved to Salem from New York City, Sam, the descendant of one of the men responsible for the Salem Witch Trials, quickly finds herself the enemy of her high school’s group of popular girls, each of whom is a descendant of women who were hung at the Salem Witch Trials. Following Sam’s arrival, the relatives of each of The Descendants start falling ill, and she finds herself at the centre of a curse as her life begins to mirror the atmosphere of the late 1600s. As the effects of the curse grow even more dire, Sam must find a way to work with The Descendants, along with a (handsome) spirit, to put an end to the cycle and prevent history from repeating itself.
❀ Sam is Easy to Root for
I enjoyed Sam’s character, and she is easy to root for. She has a lot to deal with, from her classmates’ bullying to moving in with her stepmother after her father falls into a coma, but she stays strong and focused on finding a way to stop the curse. Because the curse affects the families of The Descendants, Sam is afraid of getting too close to people, but I loved her fierce desire to protect the people she loves.
As I was reading this series, I was especially struck by how well-written it is. Books that blend contemporary with historical fiction can be a hit or miss for me, but these ones are well-researched and smoothly integrate the past with the present. I was impressed by the way Sam’s own experiences parallel some of the events of the Salem Witch Trials in the first book, especially the theme of speaking out in order to break the cycles of bullying and hatred, and I found this a great way to connect the two contexts.
❀ A Compelling Series
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is a compelling series that combines contemporary with historical fiction. I enjoyed the investigative aspects as the main characters attempt to break a centuries-old curse, and the main character is so strong. Because this series is based on the author’s own family history, it feels authentic, and the integration of the past with the present is well-executed in both books. This is a great read for those who enjoy history, and for those who can’t resist a good witch story.