Once A Witch is the first in the Witch series by Carolyn MacCullough. It was published by Houghton Miffin Harcourt (US) on 6th September 2010 and the book is 292 pages long. The second book in the series, Always A Witch, was published on 11th July.
Tamsin Greene comes from a whole family of extremely Talented witches. On the day Tamsin was born, her grandmother said that she would be the most Talented out of them all. However, now Tamsin is seventeen, her Talent still hasn’t shown up, leaving her to feel like she is now the unwanted and different member of the family. She even went as far as to move into the city to go to school instead of being with her magical family and doing the same kinds of things that they do.
When a very handsome professor mistakes Tamsin for her older sister, and asks her to help him find a very specific item, she cannot help but to agree. Wanting to prove to her family that she isn’t worthless, Tamsin sets out to find this old family heirloom. What she doesn’t bargain for is exactly what she has been asked to find and the person she needs to ask for help in order to find it. Send on a treasure hunt through time, Tamsin is coming to realise that there is so much more to being a witch than she could have ever imagined.
What I thought
There aren’t nearly enough books in the YA genre which focus on witches for my liking. I love a good witch story, especially when they can do such amazing things so I was really excited after I stumbled across this one on Amazon.
Tamsin was a great heroine. All she wants is to act like a normal teenager now she has come to terms with the fact that she is Talentless. She has a strong voice, knowing exactly what she wants, and it stands out from the first page. She is gutsy, brave and very courageous. She is also extremely rebellious which is one of the things I loved the most about her. I thought that Tamsin was a very well written character and by far, the most likable out of the whole book. There were a couple of things about her which I loved even more, things which I have never seen done in a YA book before but I don’t want to give them away for anyone wanting to read this book. I wonder if anyone who has read it can guess at what I loved the most?
The different Talents that the family members had was a great addition to this book. Each family member can do different things and while most of them are helpful or useful at times, others seem to not be as great. The diverse mix of Talents was one of the things that made this book for me. The fact that Tamsin doesn’t have a Talent made her stand out from the rest of the family and I can only imagine how this must have made her feel. Having a family full of people who are successful is hard enough but to have a family who can all do magical things apart from you must be horrible. Tamsin does explain her reasons for going away to Manhattan for school though, mainly because she feels like a bit of an outcast after her grandmother proclaimed her the most powerful of them all… which didn’t amount to anything.
Tamsin’s relationship with her older sister, Rowena, was a great thing to read about. Even though they are witches, their relationship is just like that of any sisters. They bicker, they disagree a lot of the time and they fight. As the story developed, the relationship between Tamsin and Rowena slightly changed and I was glad to see that there was more between them than I had originally thought. Tamsin’s relationships with other characters were also interesting. The fact that she felt like the black sheep of the family put some distance between her and her mother, knowing that Rowena was always going to be the favoured daughter. It isn’t only Tamsin and Rowena’s relationship that changes though. As Tamsin goes through a number of things in this story, she realises that people in her family are not all that they seem and by finding out new things about them, it changes how she sees them.
Aiding Tamsin in her quest to find a particular item for the professor is long time friend, Gabriel. Even though the two used to be best friends, they lost touch when Tamsin didn’t gain her Talent. Gabriel didn’t seem bothered about this fact at all. He only wanted his best friend back and couldn’t understand why Tamsin hadn’t kept in touch over the years. I really loved Gabriel. He’s a witch, plays in a band and is pretty damn hot. What’s not to like? He was also sweet and sensitive though when it came to Tamsin and it was obvious how much he cared about her. I also loved how he stuck by her, no matter what they were doing or what she was attempting to do and he really was her rock throughout the whole book.
Once A Witch has a fantastic mix of contemporary and historic parts in relation to the witches. The nature of the plot follows Tamsin on her quest to find the missing item through time. Getting to see witches in different eras was a favourite part of the book for me due to liking anything historical as it is. It was interesting to see different characters in different time periods and to see how they had changed over time and how they reacted to particular things. As Tamsin travels through time, it makes for a very exciting read. Finding the item isn’t easy at all and this provides a lot of action, mystery and tension which was great.
Once A Witch is one of the best books focusing on witches that I have read in a long time. Carolyn MacCullough has definitely put a spell over me!