Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Book: Once a Witch (Carolyn MacCullough)
Series or Stand-Alone: Series, Witch #1
Pages: 292
Genre: Young Adult
Preview on Google Books
Description (From Goodreads):
Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.
Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough is highly imaginative and terrific fun. MacCullough did a marvelous job creating a unique world and charming characters. The stories heroine; Tamsin is a great character with lots of spunk. She has spent half of her life believing that she was a disappointment to her family, because she is the only one without a talent. Her insecurities are only magnified by her "perfect" older sister, Rowena. Rowena is everything Tamsin wishes she could be and she resents her for it.  It doesn't help matters that Rowena is a control freak and complete know it all. However, this creates a great dynamic for the family relationship and allows for plenty of banter between the sisters. 

Anyways, because Tamsin feels like an outsider she chooses to separate herself from her family by attending a boarding school in the city. It is here that she meets her best friend and roommate Agatha. I love Agatha - she is quirky and entertaining, I just hope that in the next book we can see more of her. She really doesn't have much "screen-time" in this book and it is just a shame. Gabriel, Tamsin's love interest, however, gets plenty of time in the spotlight. Gabriel and Tamsin grew up together and were practically inseparable, until he moved away. Then, when Tamsin reached her eighth birthday and did not show a talent, she distanced herself from everyone, including Gabriel. However, in the beginning of the book he moves back to town and looks her up. He has a talent for finding things - just ask him and he can locate practically everything. Tamsin reluctantly enlists his help in locating the missing clock she has agreed to find for a young professor. He plays a pivotal role in the book and their relationship is simply adorable. There chemistry is undeniable and they often engage in playful banter - which is my favorite!

The plotline of Once a Witch is amazing. There all kinds of remarkable plot elements - time travel, love spells, romances, ancient family fueds - really, this book has it all. I also love the new take on witches - I love the idea that each person has a specific talent, something only they can do. There are so many fascinating extended family members in the book, that I am hoping to get a better feel of in the upcoming books. The pacing is pretty good throughout the book, the only time it felt a bit off was the ending. I just felt like it was a little rushed. I think that the story would have benefited a lot if it was a bit longer. The pacing problems could have been fixed and the secondary characters could have been flushed out a little bit better.

But, all and all, Once a Witch was a terrific read. The story was both original and entertaining and the characters are all interesting and fun to follow. You will find yourself cheering for Tamsin and Gabriel and hoping that they can work out the gigantic mess that they create. I am looking forward to the upcoming books in this series, I am sure they will be great as well! 


Jenny said...

Oh thanks so much for this review! I'd been wondering about this book since I saw that Always a Witch was on NetGalley and I thought it sounded great. I love a heroine with some spunk, so I'm thinking I'll like Tamsin. Thanks for the note about the ending being rushed, I like to know that ahead of time. Really fantastic review, I enjoyed reading it and look forward to starting this series:)

Zoe B said...

Great review! I will definitely be adding this to my wish list!

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