Adriana Mather's debut YA, How to Hang a Witch, has a fantastic premise: Samantha Mather, a direct descendant of Cottom Mather, moves to Salem, MA, only to find herself the hated target of the popular (and strangely sinister) Descendants, a clique composed of the progeny of those who died in the witch trials. The fact that the author herself is a direct descendant of Cotton Mather only makes the premise more intriguing.
Happily, the book delivered: this is a fast-paced, sometimes dark exploration of the ways prejudices not only blind us, but can lead us into potentially dangerous mob mentalities (see, the witch hunts). The tension mounts consistently as Sam struggles to find her place in a hostile school and begins to piece together clues of a strange curse linking her to the descendants--and to those long-ago witch trials.
Readers will appreciate both the haunting setting and the more human relationships between Sam and her dad, her new neighbors, and the prickly girls of the Descendants.