Title: Once A Witch
Author: Carolyn MacCullough
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published Date: Sept. 2009
Price: Amazon ($10.88)
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.
MacCullough does a splendid job in creating a magical world without any of the Harry Potter cliché. I loved the intricate plot. It’s finally a book without the werewolves or vampires (even though I love them too) but creates this whole unique world that keeps you turning the pages, wondering what new information Tamsin is going to discover. The unique aspect of the plot and the action in the novel brings freshness from all the paranormal romance. Also, the theme of being looked down upon in your family is integrated connects to the reader in a psychological way, along with the common message that there is no black and white, no good or evil. The revelation at the end that Tamsin’s family isn't purely good makes me eagerly wait for a sequel (I really do hope there is one. MacCullough left a lot open).
The integration of how Tamsin is compared to her sister as she feels excluded and feels the shame of her family for being Talentless creates a friendship between the reader and Tamsin. MacCullough’s development of Tamsin through her beautiful language, with the sprinkle of a sassy tone of a normal teenager, creates a protagonist you will always root for. For example, whenever Rowena, Tamsin’s older sister, taunts Tamsin I get angry at Rowena that by the end of the book, I felt like Rowena, even after all her suffering, didn’t get the short end of the stick.
The romance in the book, I am sorry to say, was a bit disappointing. I actually expected romance to be the centerstage of the novel when I read the synopsis. I thought Gabriel’s and Tamsin’s relationship was adorable but I felt that there was no premise for their romance. Gabriel is the regular guy who comes back into Tamsin’s life after they were best friends during their childhood. Their relationship didn't really develop but more like leaped to a romantic stage.
Overall, I thought the plot was exciting and made me flip the pages. Through every page, the plot thickens and there are always surprises. Pretty please (*puppy dog eyes*)..a sequel? Especially with more romance in it? Lol.
The cover is beautiful with the color assortment and the use of the book as the centerpiece. While the book does represent Tamsin’s family history book, it characterizes Tamsin as the hardworking student, aside from her family.