Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCulloughAugust 1, 2011; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The adventures of Tam and Gabriel continue with more time travel, Talents, spy work, and of course, the evil Knights.
Since the gripping conclusion of Once A Witch, Tamsin Greene has been haunted by her grandmother's prophecy that she will soon be forced to make a crucial decision—one so terrible that it could harm her family forever. When she discovers that her enemy, Alistair Knight, went back in time to Victorian-era New York in order to destroy her family, Tamsin is forced to follow him into the past. Stranded all alone in the nineteenth century, Tamsin soon finds herself disguised as a lady's maid in the terrifying mansion of the evil Knight family, avoiding the watchful eye of the vicious matron, La Spider, and fending off the advances of Liam Knight. As time runs out, both families square off in a thrilling display of magic. And to her horror, Tamsin finally understands the nature of her fateful choice. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Once A Witch and Always A Witch are two of the best paranormal/fantasy books I've read in quite awhile. Always A Witch begins just where Once A Witch left off. Alistair Knight has traveled back in time to prevent the creation of the Domani and the loss of the Knight family's power. For awhile, it looks like he is going to prevail. The future in the Greene family's book of prophecy is changing, or rather, disappearing. When a strange man travels forward in time to the Greene home and recognizes Tamsin, she knows that she needs to go back to 1887 and stop Alistair from destroying her family's future existence.
Tamsin travels back to 1887 and poses as a maid for the Knight family. I love how the fantasy world expands in this book. We see a whole new range of talents, and also see just how they can be used for evil as opposed to good. We understand why it was necessary for the creation of the Domani. The story is consistently interesting. This isn't one of those books that has you plodding through the first 3/4 and then glued to every page for the last 1/4. Instead, the entire book reads at a steady pace, with new plot twists, character development, and world-building that keeps you fascinated.
I love Tamsin. She was a strong character in Once A Witch, but is even stronger in Always A Witch. I liked seeing how her personality changed once she realized that she is, in many ways, the most Talented member of her entire family. It's given her a lot of self-confidence. But she still has some humility and insecurities that came from thinking she was a failure in a family of successes for most of her life. The mixture of qualities is actually a good thing for Tamsin. I love how courageous and smart she is. She isn't afraid of standing up to anyone - the Knights, her family, or the 1887 Greenes. But instead of just charging at them and losing, she positions herself to approach people at the time when she is most likely to get what she needs from them.
The romance between Gabriel and Tamsin is still here. I love Gabriel. He is handsome and loves teasing Tamsin by turning anything she says into a double entendre. He has a very useful Talent, but his family problems have kept him humble. The two of them are made for one another. I love how Gabriel wants to help Tamsin and Tamsin wants to protect Gabriel - rather than the other way around as most boy-girl stories go. I also like that the romance is not the most important thing to this story. It adds to it rather than defines it.
Always A Witch is a satisfactory conclusion to Once A Witch. The ending ties up the series nice - I loved how the book ended, even if it was bittersweet. The only thing that disappoints me is that there will not be another book.