Sunday, March 31, 2013

Author:  Carolyn MacCullough
Rating:   ★★★

It took me a while to read Once a Witch because honestly, the start was pretty boring. After a couple of months, I picked it up again because I was looking for a book to fulfill my 2013 Witch and Witchcraft Challenge. I am actually surprised that I enjoyed it! The plot wasn't attractive for me from the start, but after a few chapters, I found myself unwilling to put the book down.

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.

I enjoyed Once a Witch because the plot takes you through several twists and turns, the characters are likeable, the book actually focuses on the witch plot, with a dash of romance, instead of focusing on the romance, and even though it has no cliffhangers that would make you scream in frustration, it makes you want more of the story by the end of the book.

The start of Once a Witch is simple: Tamsin is expected to be one of the most powerful witches in history, but her talent never shows. She thus feels left out and wants to prove herself to her family by embarking on a secret mission with a stranger who is looking for her sister. Alas, all is not what it seems, and Tamsin's actions sets off catastrophic consequences for their family. Moreover, just when you thought you've taken the plot in stride, revelations about Tamsin start cropping up. I can't say anymore without spoiling the story for you; it's one of the best twists in the story. Needless to say, I want to pick up the next book, Always a Witch, right this moment.

But getting back to the review... the characters are pretty likeable. I'm not yet sure if I like Tamsin all that much. I do like Gabriel and her roommate/friend Agatha though. Don't get me wrong, Tamsin seems pretty nice and loyal to her family, despite all the secrets and years of feeling shunned by them. I just couldn't relate to her. I did find the bit about her being a smoker, with Gabriel being the seemingly goody boy in the story, funny. It's usually the other way around, isn't it? But then again, as she is the "outcast" of the family, I guess that whole image suits her.

I like Gabriel, although not as a potential crush. I tend to go for the 20+ men nowadays. But I do like his characterization: the nice boy who is always ready to help out Tamsin. And he is such a boy, as depicted when he is easily attracted to women. I do wonder when he fell for Tamsin. When did they fall for each other? It was so sudden, I think, especially after years of being apart. He also wasn't a jerk to her, as some guys tend to be around women they like.

Rowena is characterized almost like a stereotype, with her blond hair and perfect looks, who can get anyone she wants and is so powerful...and knows it. But I do pity her in Once a Witch, but I quickly snap out of pity when she snaps out of the spell and she goes back to being her...perfect slightly snotty self. I do think, however, that she was just being careful around Tamsin, as instructed by her parents and grandmother. What could her bond with Tamsin be if they just spoke about it?

One of the things I am confused about the story though is when Tamsin's mother, Camilla, tells her that Grandmother Althea is under a spell by Rowena. Camilla knows this because Rowena boasted this to her, but in the end it is found that Althea was under a spell...but not by Rowena. I think it's incongruent; it would have been more satisfactory if the story maintained that Rowena was the one who put her under the spell. Another part that confused me is the explanation as to why Tamsin's Talents did not manifest in her earlier years. Were they bound? I don't think it was explicitly stated in the story. And why did they just show up in her 17th year? Now that she's travelled twice, does that mean she'll be able to time travel too?

I have to give props to the gorgeous book cover! The colors are so vivid and rich, and admittedly one of the things that lured me to read Once a Witch. I think readers of paranormal books, or those looking for beyond the usual fluffy witch books might enjoy Once a Witch. It was unexpected, but I did enjoy the few hours spent with the book. The story has not steamy scenes, but it does have a few references to sex, which is also part of the reason why I state that Gabriel is such a boy. Quite a few stereotypes in this book, eh?

This is my seventh entry for the 2013 Witches and Witchcraft Reading Challenge, hosted by Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf. Hooray, I think I'm a maiden now? Just nine more books until I reach my crone goal :D I'm really enjoying the challenge so far because I love witchy stories, and I'm starting to explore more books that I previously did not know, such as Once a Witch.

Happy Easter! :)


  1. Hi,
    I have nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger Award.
    Take a look and if you want, participate.

  2. Thank you for the nomination! Unfortunately I won't be able to participate in the award. But thanks again, and have a nice day! :)

  3. Great review, I'm not a big fan of witches but this sounds like a nice book.
    What caught my eye was the fact that she is a smoker, you don't read about many young characters who smoke, I don't know why because in real life many young people do smoke (even though everybody knows is bad for your health).

    Thnks for sharing

    1. You're right! I suppose that's why that vice of hers really stood out for me because girls don't usually smoke in the stories, especially in books for young adults. Although we do have backstabbing, lying, murderous young adult characters nowadays...


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