Title: Once A Witch
Author: Carolyn MacCullough
Published: 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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.
First Sentence:”I was born on the night of Samhain, when the barrier between the worlds is whisper thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.”
I really enjoyed this book. The writing was absent of serious blemishes (yep.), the characters were strong, and the plot was fascinating.
While not big on supernatural stories, I do love a good story about magic. The way that magic is presented in this book was creative and classic. Each witch has a “Talent” which lets them do a specific thing really well. Healing, finding, hiding, and persuading are just some of the Talents possessed by Tamsin’s family and friends.
Tamsin, however, does not have a Talent, even though she was supposed to be really Talented. Obviously this makes her feel lonely and out of the loop, so she avoids family functions whenever she can. Thus she attends a boarding school in New York and only comes home when she has to. From here her desire to feel powerful like her family, starts her on a journey to find an old clock. However the “handsome young professor” is not all together honest, and Tamsin gets swept into a crazy magical conflict.
As for the characters, they were quite impressive. Tamsin’s roommate Agatha was a lovely side character who supported Tamsin even without knowing all the details. Gabriel, the love interest, was charming. Each family member was very unique and complex. There was a lot going on with each of them, even though we only saw certain aspects of their character.
A lot of the conflict/plot comes from Tamsin’s feeling of failure from not having a Talent. This causes her to accept a task she probably couldn’t accomplish. Along the way she finds out powers she had but didn’t know about, and we see her coming to terms with herself.
So all in all, I really enjoyed the characters, concept, and plot of Once A Witch, and I look forward to picking up the sequel, Always A Witch, which just came out!!
Content Warnings: Language, suggestive comments, witchcraft.