Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.
How To Hang A Witch #1
Description⎮Reviewed Oct. 2016
Narrator: Adriana Mather
Length: 10h 41m
Publisher: Listening Library⎮2016
4.25★ Audiobook⎮ This book was released in July and saving it for October was torture, but definitely the right choice. My October listening list is painstakingly curated and How To Hang A Witch was one of my first selections.
After finally indulging, I wound up with mixed feelings for How To Hang A Witch. The premise was what originally appealed to me. I love reading about modern-day descendents of historical figures. The fact that it is loosely based on the author’s family history adds an extra layer of intrigue and eeriness to the story. The Salem Witch Trials have been in area of interest (and fright) to me since learning about them in middle school.
The plot definitely held up to my expectations. This was a very plot driven story, at the expense of other elements. In particular, I felt that the character development was lacking. If this is indeed intended to be the first installment in a series, I wish that the author would have shown a bit more reserve with the plot and made more of an effort to develop the characters and backstories. In my opinion, such a gripping premise should have been better capitalized upon.
To be completely honest, the writing left a lot to be desired. Outside of the Salem context and setting, the characters and their relationships seemed rather formulaic. As a listener, that was extremely frustrating because the premise of the story was so tantalizing. I appreciate the author’s personal connection to the witch trials and the genealogist in me loves that she is sharing this incredible piece of family history with us. Mather must have done a ton of digging to build this story and I’m sure she had a blast doing it. It’s a fantastic idea made even better by the basis of it being founded in truth.
I’m clinging to that premise and choosing to mentally “gloss over” the more bothersome aspects of the story. Because the foundation for How To Hang A Witch is so engaging, I will likely take the time to listen to the next installment out of curiosity. I cannot imagine where it will go because this could have easily been a standalone novel. I will wait to pass final judgment dependent on the direction of the next installment.
Narration review: Adriana Mather chose to narrate this audiobook herself. Self-narration is always a bold decision and shouldn’t be made lightly. I do somewhat understand Adriana wanting to narrate such a personal story. On the surface, it gives added novelty to her personal connection to the story. However, and this is a big however, Adriana appears to lack the professional voice acting experience needed to adequately narrate an audiobook.
Narration doesn’t necessarily have to enhance a listening experience (although it certainly helps if it does), but it should never detract from the experience. In the case of How To Hang A Witch, Mather’s narration was a huge distraction. It lacked any sort of rhythm or flow, constantly preventing total immersion in the story. Her characterization of dialogue was passable, but her overall narration came across as extremely amateurish. That’s understandable because she is not a professional narrator, but I do still have to critique her as one. I very much hope that she will hand over the reins to a professional narrator for any upcoming installments.
Unfortunately, I recommend passing on the audiobook and picking up a paper copy instead. ♣︎