Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Published: September 14th 2009 by Clarion Books
Details: Hardcover, 292 pages
ISBN: 0547223994
ISBN13: 9780547223995

From Goodreads:
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.


Feeling like an outsider in your own home is not a feeling one wishes upon themselves. Carolyn MacCallough has made that feeling inside Tamsin into something that is totally different than what ever thought it could be. I was up to 4:00 in the morning reading MacCallough's new novel that is addicting as hell but could have had a more developed plot. At first, Tamsin can't believe that a professor from NYU wants her to help him find something. But it's not necessarily Tamsin he wants, it's her soon-to-be-married-Talented older sister Rowena; who, of course, she impersonates. Just to prove to her family that she is not as useless as they think she is, Tamsin plans to pretend to be Rowena long enough to find the clock. Or at least that was the plan. When she locates it and tries to bring it back to him, it's no longer valuable. Through a series of time jumps, locating that one power-filled item seems to be the most important thing, especially when its consumer is practically hold your sister hostage. Seeing that vulnerability in Rowena as a result of what Tamsin started sends a sense of guilt so deep that she knows she's going to need some help to get out of this one. What she discovers while trying to save her sister is a whole bundle of family secrets coming to the light to reveal themselves. Turns out Tamsin was never as Talentless as she thought she was. Will her newly untrained power help her in the end? Or is it more trouble than its worth?

A surprising end starts a new world for Tamsin, one hopefully not as secretive. Spoken in first-person, Once a Witch is not a disapproving novel, however, I do not think it hit its full potential. Felt as if there were some emotional gaps in different scenes of attempted romance and family playfulness. Recommended to lonely teens in big families, looking to find their own full potential.

Grade: B-