Thursday, August 4, 2011

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

2009; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Summary

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.(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Tamsin Greene's mother can run at super-sonic speed, her father can control the weather, and her sister can bend people's will by just talking. Tamsin? She can do diddly squat. It's like being a toy poodle in a family of doberman pinschers. Understandably, Tamsin is a little sensitive about being a talentless teen in a powerful witching family. She's happily ensconced in boarding school in Manhattan. But her life becomes intertwined with her family when she pretends to be her sister and agrees to retrieve a clock for a stranger. This little task becomes incredibly complicated and awakens powers Tamsin didn't know she had.

I loved Once A Witch. The story flowed quickly and smoothly. The fantasy element was a unique twist on sorcery and was well-explained. The characters were likeable and believable. They didn't have particularly unique personalities, but they weren't so cardboard that I felt like I could tip them over. The romantic element was there with a cute, slightly over-confident, nice, helpful guy.

Tamsin was a great character. In this book, she goes from being nothing to being something (I don't think it's a spoiler to say this much). Her feelings of inferiority are fully understandable, as is her desire to prove herself. Her fear, anger, and amazement at discovering who she is was also believable. She's not by nature a kick-butt type of girl, but when something needs to be done, she steps up to the plate. These are my favorite kind of girls. I also liked her roommate Agatha. She was your stereotypical kooky best friend, but not so crazy that she became annoying. Gabriel is great. Handsome and self-confident. While he's Talented, his family life is sad enough that he can really relate to Tamsin's life as a Talentless freak. Together they make a great team - their abilities play off one another well. I like that he wasn't the overprotective type. There actually isn't a lot of romance in this book. I could have used a nice kissing scene or two, but the tension was fun. There's potential for lots more!

My only issue with this book was the presence of smoking and drinking. The characters casually drank and smoked. This is nothing new in YA, but usually you see alcohol at parties or as part of a plot device. Here, they just drank for no reason - like a shot of vodka before studying. Similar with the cigarettes. There's nothing really wrong with this...if anything it's reflective of many teens' lives, but it stuck out as odd and something not to be encouraged. But that's just me on my goody-two-shoes high horse.

Once a Witch is a fabulous story that sucks you right in. I loved the family element to the novel. I also loved how some of the odd references earlier in the story made a lot more sense later on. The story concludes nicely, but still leaves you ready and waiting for the sequel.

Rating: 4 / 5

22 comments :

  1. Sounds awesome! Tamsin sounds like a great character and I love it when characters get to discover their awesomeness over the course of a book. I would feel the same way about the drinking and smoking though.

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  2. I really loved this one. I started out not having too many expectations and it blew me away. I liked Tamsin a lot because she took responsibility for her actions and worked to fix them. Great review!

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  3. I am so glad you loved ONCE A WITCH! I do too! The sequel is fabulous as well! I wish there could be more to these books, but I'm pretty satisfied with just the two. :)

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  4. I finished this last night and really liked it as well :) I really liked the romance between Tamsin and Gabriel, to me it felt realistic that with so much going on they weren't constantly smooching. And like you said, there's real potential for the sequel ;)
    And the family life! I'm so glad there *was* a family life! I miss that in YA.
    Great review!

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  5. It's funny, I've read heaps of vampire books but apart from Hex Hall I don't think I've read even one other book about witches! This one sounds fascinating and has the additional cool setting of a Manhattan boarding school. Very Gossip Girl :)

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  6. I've had this on my wishlist for ages. I really must get to reading it soon! Sounds fab!

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  7. I really enjoyed this book. I think Tamsin is a great heroine and such a strong person. I also love her and Gabriel's relationship. It's so sweet and natural.

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  8. Haven't read this one yet but I've heard great things about it. I do love a strong character -- sounds like Tamsin's really someone I could connect with.
    Mary @ BookSwarm

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  9. Loved this book! Just read the second and it's not as great as the first! Great review!

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  10. This sounds really good. I love the cover too. Another to add to my TBR list thanks Anna. I love your reviews because they are honest. I can always count on you for that and its great.

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  11. Yay! I loved this one too:) I thought Tamsin was fabulous and I really liked what you said about Gabriel not being the super possessive overprotective type - there's was plenty of tension but not any angst which was nice. Can't wait to read Always a Witch!

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  12. Great review! I've had this one sitting around for ages but a few iffy reviews kept me off from it...I'll definitely have to read it soon after yours, though.

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  13. Oh wow, this book sounds amazing! Definitely going to be on the look out for this! It sounds like there is time travel involved in this book (I think) and I *love* books that involve time travel.

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  14. A shot of vodka before studying? Really?

    Umm...that's makes me think that the character is destined to become an AA member.

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  15. Yay! A boarding school book. I like the covr. Love the review :)

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  16. It's not really a boarding school book and I've never read Gossip Girl but I doubt it's anything like that. Tamsin just goes there to get away from her family but it is by no means the center of the story and has very little to do with anything. It's so much more than that.

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  17. Once a Witch was pretty freaking fantastic. And there will be a squeal! I think it's coming out soon, but really don't take my word for it, I always inevitably get the release dates wrong. Great review! I would have said so much more and spoiled everything ;p

    ♥ Trish

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  18. I just bought this book last week, so glad you liked it. I hope to read it soon, sounds really good.

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  19. I want to read this one, too! I agree with you on the smoking and drinking. Yes, teens smoke and so do adults. But yikes, taking a shot before studying? I agree with Missie. It sounds like someone needs AA. lol The drinking doesn't bother me so much as the smoking. I can see if it's a historical novel cause that was the norm and it was "cool." But I don't know if smoking is seen as "cool" today. I can't stand to be around it. Okay...that's goody-two-shoes talking. But the I like the dynamics of the story and the plot. Great review!

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  20. I started this one and then DNF-ed it. I think I'll pick it up again sometime. I didn't love the main character and I wanted the book to be a little faster paced than it was. From everything I hear it sounds like I stopped right before the good parts :)

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  21. I've just come across this series and am definitely intrigued. The characters and plot sound like a fun take on the everyone's-powerful-but-me plot trope. Though, I agree that it seems odd that there's non-plot driven drinking/cigarette use. Maybe a missed opportunity by the author to tackle this issue?

    Either way, I'm definitely checking this one out. Thanks for the rec!


    Smiles!
    Lori

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  22. I haven't read this one, but I've heard pretty good things. Glad you enjoyed it overall! I agree about the smoking and drinking, though... when it's not really necessary or doesn't add to the story much I think it's kind of dumb to include. Especially smoking. Yuck.

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