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)