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How to Hang a Witch
Cover of How to Hang a Witch
How to Hang a Witch
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The #1 New York Times bestseller!It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in this riveting novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where high school starts to feel like a modern day...
The #1 New York Times bestseller!It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in this riveting novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where high school starts to feel like a modern day...
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  • The #1 New York Times bestseller!
    It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in this riveting novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where high school starts to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem's past.

    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.
    "I am utterly addicted to Adriana Mather's electric debut. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, twisting and turning with ghosts, witches, an ancient curse, and— sigh— romance. It's beautiful. Haunting. The characters are vivid and real. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down."
    —Jennifer Niven, bestselling author of Holding up the Universe and All the Bright Places

    "It's like Mean Girls meets history class in the best possible way." —Seventeen Magazine

    "Mather shines a light on the lessons the Salem Witch Trials can teach us about modern-day bullying — and what we can do about it."—Bustle.com
    "Strikes a careful balance of creepy, fun, and thoughtful." —NPR


  • From the book Chapter One

    Too Confident

    Like most fast-­talking, opinionated New Yorkers, I have an affinity for sarcasm. At fifteen, though, it's hard to convince anyone that sarcasm's a cultural thing and not a bad attitude. Especially when your stepmother can't drive, 'cause she's also from New York, and spills your coffee with maniacal brake pounding.

    I wipe a dribble of hazelnut latte off my chin. "It's okay. Don't worry about it. I love wearing my coffee."

    Vivian keeps her hand poised over the horn, like a cat waiting to pounce. "All your clothes have holes in them. Coffee isn't your problem."

    If it's possible for someone to never have an awkward moment, socially or otherwise, then that someone is my stepmother. When I was little, I admired her ability to charm roomfuls of people. Maybe I thought it would rub off on me—­an idea I've since given up on. She's perfectly put together in a way I'll never be, and my vegan leather jacket and torn black jeans drive her crazy. So now I just take joy in wearing them to her dinner parties. Gotta have something, right?

    "My problem is, I don't know when I'll see my dad," I say, staring out at the well-­worn New England homes, with their widow's walks and dark shutters.

    Vivian's lips tighten. "We've been through this a hundred times. They'll transfer him to Mass General sometime this week."

    "Which is still an hour from Salem." This is the sentence I've repeated since I found out three weeks ago that we had to sell our New York apartment, the apartment I've spent my entire life in.

    "Would you rather live in New York and not be able to pay your father's medical bills? We have no idea how long he'll be in a coma."

    Three months, twenty-­one days, and ten hours. That's how long it's already been. We pass a row of witch-­themed shops with dried herbs and brooms filling their windows.

    "They really love their witches here," I say, ignoring Vivian's last question.

    "This is one of the most important historical towns in America. Your relatives played a major role in that history."

    "My relatives hanged witches in the sixteen hundreds. Not exactly something to be proud of."

    But in truth, I'm super curious about this place, with its cobblestone alleys and eerie black houses. We pass a police car with a witch logo on the side. As a kid, I tried every tactic to get my dad to take me here, but he wouldn't hear of it. He'd say that nothing good ever happens in Salem and the conversation would end. There's no pushing my dad.

    A bus with a ghost-­tour ad pulls in front of us. Vivian jerks to a stop and then tailgates. She nods at the ad. "There's a nice provincial job for you."

    I crack a smile. "I don't believe in ghosts." We make a right onto Blackbird Lane, the street on the return address of the cards my grandmother sent me as a child.

    "Well, you're the only one in Salem who feels that way." I don't doubt she's right.

    For the first time during this roller coaster of a car ride, my stomach drops in a good way. Number 1131 Blackbird Lane, the house my dad grew up in, the house he met my mother in. It's a massive two-­story white building with black shutters and columned doorways. The many peaks of the roof are covered with dark wooden shingles, weathered from the salty air. A wrought-­iron fence with pointed spires surrounds the perfectly manicured lawn.

    "Just the right size," Vivian says, eyeing our new home.

    The redbrick driveway is uneven with age and pushed up by tree roots. Vivian's silver sports car jostles as we make our way through the black arched gate and roll to a stop.


About the Author-

  • Adriana Mather is the 14th generation of Mathers in America, with family roots stretching back to the first Thanksgiving, the Salem Witch Trials, the Revolutionary War, and the Titanic. Adriana co-owns Zombot Pictures, a production company that makes feature films. In addition to producing, Adriana is also an actress. She lives in Los Angeles where she has a life full of awesome, cats, and coffee. Follow Adriana on Twitter, @AdrianaMather.


  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 4, 2016
    When her father's illness forces 15-year-old Samantha "Sam" Mather and her stepmother to move to Salem, Mass., her family's connection to the witch trials makes Sam a target of the Descendants, girls whose ancestors were among the accused witches. After Sam befriends a charming young ghost named Elijah, she begins to piece together just how much of Salem's past continues to haunt its present; forming a tentative truce with the Descendants may be the only way to break a 300-year-old curse. Inspired by her own lineage to Cotton Mather, debut author Mather infuses the story with a rich history of real places and events to anchor its more fantastical elements, including a supernatural love triangle involving Elijah, secret rooms, and hidden compartments containing ancient writings. Witty repartee can seem too irreverent in passages where the teenage characters are facing (and sometimes succumbing to) death, but Mather crafts an entertaining story that draws intriguing parallels between the 17th-century trials and modern-day bullying, as well as the fears and mob mentalities behind both. Ages 12–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2016
    When Cotton Mather's lineal descendant, several generations along, moves to modern-day Salem, Massachusetts, she triggers a curse that's been in effect since 1692.Bad luck has dogged those around 15-year-old Sam Mather all her life, and now her dad is in a mysterious coma that's strained finances so much that she and her stepmother have left New York to live in the ancestral manse, the home of Sam's late, estranged grandmother. In short order Sam earns the enmity of the Descendants, weird kids who wear black and claim to be descended from the infamous trials' accused witches. She also becomes acquainted with cute boy-next-door Jaxon, who seems determined to like her, and hot ghost Elijah, whose initial hostility modulates quickly to attraction. But bad stuff keeps happening, including deaths. Could there be a connection to the centuries-old trials? Duh. Author Mather, also a descendant, claims in an afterword to be trying to plumb the forces that lead to witch hunts, both historical and modern, but her book is far less nuanced than that intention suggests. Sam is drawn alternately to Jaxon and Elijah (the rules governing his corporeality are conveniently fluid), tries to earn the trust of the Descendants, and fights with her stepmother before the wildly confusing climax. Readers familiar with the real history are likely to gnash their teeth at the book's simplistic liberties.Pure contrivance--nothing more. (Paranormal romance. 12-16)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2016

    Gr 9 Up-Samantha Mather's life has been turned upside down after her father becomes ill and slips into an unexplained coma. Uprooted from New York, Sam's father is placed in a Boston medical facility while Sam and her stepmother move into her father's house in Salem, MA. As a direct descendant of the infamous Cotton Mather of the Salem witch trials, Sam is shunned by most of the town and becomes a target at school of the Descendants, a powerful clique of progeny of those murdered as a result of the trials. As strange and unexplainable events occur, the teen realizes that there are dark forces at work in Salem that are beyond her ability to fight. Help comes from the least likely of places-a disgruntled 324-year-old ghost named Elijah. Together they uncover clues about an evil curse plaguing the town and must join with the Descendants if they hope to stop the deadly cycle from continuing. Mather's brilliantly written novel is full of twists and turns, spine-tingling drama, and ghostly encounters. The vibrant characters leap off the page, and the narrative is incredibly deep-addressing issues such as acceptance, bullying, loyalty, hatred, revenge, and being true to yourself and destiny-all perfectly packaged without being simplistic or preachy. VERDICT A captivating and highly recommended read. Teens will not want this tale to end.-Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Shelf Awareness "Strikes a careful balance of creepy, fun, and thoughtful."

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    Random House Children's Books
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