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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Synopsis -

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.

My thoughts-

Imagine on the day of your birth it was prophesized that you would become the most talented witch out of all the magical people in your family. That’s a pretty hefty prediction to try and live up to, don’t you think? To make matters worse, what if your talent never manifested like everyone expected it to? Wouldn't you feel like a great big failure in their eyes?

When handsome Professor Alistair Callum mistook Tamsin Greene for her perfect, overly talented sister Rowena, it made sense to me that she would want to bask in the glow of someone speaking to her with such high regard for a change. I can empathize with how she felt like the odd one out all the time and also why she would want to be away at boarding school as much as possible. But what I loved the most about Tamsin was that she was no whiner and no slouch. She might've pretended to be Rowena on a whim, but she made a promise to find a lost heirloom for the Professor and she showed great ingenuity and courage in trying to acquire it. Later on when things shifted and true motivations were revealed, Tamsin didn't crumble either. She has the makings of a great heroine and I can't wait to see where this series will lead her in future novels.

The secondary characters of Once a Witch, including the minor ones, were also very interesting to me and I hope to read more about their talents in the next installment. But it was the dynamics between Rowena and Tamsin that really drew me into the book. I don’t have a sister, but I imagine if I had one as exasperating as Rowena was with her perfect looks, incredible power and unstoppable charm, that I would also develop a complex just like Tamsin. When things really mattered, however, Tamsin was there for her sister, showing true character and great strength. Rowena went through quite a few changes in this book, and it was fascinating to watch her relationship with Tamsin change along the way. Gabriel was my other favorite character. His particular talent was the most intriguing to me and I'd like to learn more about him in the next novel.

Once a Witch was a mesmerizing race through time and an enchanting urban fantasy. Armed with well drawn, quirky characters and brimming with family secrets and sibling rivalry, the plot of Once a Witch was complex enough to capture the interest of adults, while still maintaining content appropriate for younger teens. The pace of the novel really kicked into gear for me when Tamsin arrived home for Rowena’s engagement party and we were introduced to the varying magical talents of her relatives and immediate family members. I would also say that the time travel sequences were my favorite aspect of the novel. My heart raced with the worry that Tamsin and Gabriel would irrevocably change things for the worse during their journeys. It was very suspenseful and helped keep the plot unpredictable and fast paced.

Most people at one time or another have felt emotionally or physically left out from the friends and family in their lives. For me, the underlying theme of Once a Witch is that while we all sometimes feel inadequate or disconnected from those we care about, we all really do have our own special talent. You just have to figure out what yours is and follow it down whatever path it takes you.

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 Pages
Publisher: Clarion Books (September 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0547223994
ISBN-13: 978-0547223995

Buy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, etc

About the Author- Carolyn MacCullough received her MFA in creative writing from the New School and is the author of three previous young adult novels. She lives with her husband in Brooklyn, and you can visit her online at carolynmaccullough.com. Her upcoming novel, Once a Witch will be released September 14th 2009.


Ella Press said...

Sounds interesting!
This is next on my read list!

Ella Press said...

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celi.a said...

Mmm...this book has an interesting premise, and sounds like it has redeeming underlying values, as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

kate said...

wOW, I didn't think anything could make me even more excited than I already was for this book! Now I have to read it. Great, thoughtful review!


Nice review, I don't really go for witch books, I rather read about vampires or werewolves, but this one intrigues me for some reason...

Anonymous said...

I read this book too, it's pretty good and I enjoyed it :) great review!

Ceri said...

This sounds like a good one. One I'd probably pick up as it sounds like it has every element you could want. :)

Great review.

Juju from Tales of Whimsy said...

This looks really good. I'm really looking forward to it.

Misty said...

Hey. I gave you an award! Stop by and grab it.

Melissa said...

Great review, I'm putting this one on my list :)

The Book Owl said...

Nice review. I'm really excited to read this!

Dani. said...

I am very curious about this book.
It looks really good.
Cant wait to read it. :)