Mini Review: Once a Witch (Witch #1)

Once a WitchBy Carolyn MacCullough

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: September 6, 2010
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Purchased

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.

Goodreads Summary

At her birth, her grandmother proclaimed that Tamsin would be the most powerful and a beacon for all of the Talented, but she was the one whose ability never manifested itself.  Teased and pitied by the other Talents, she leaves to go to school with other normal kids.  Home on break, she’s watching the family store when she’s mistaken for her sister Rowena and accepts a task to find a missing clock for an NYU professor, hoping to prove to her family that she can do something.Back at school in New York, Tamsin reconnects with childhood friend Gabriel, whose Talent happens to be finding things.  He reluctantly agrees to help her and admits a secret – he also has the ability to find things that exist in the past.  The clock the professor wants found was lost some time ago and despite the danger of upsetting events in the present, Gabriel takes Tamsin back in time to get it.  Once she gets her hands on it though, she realizes that the clock isn’t just a clock and the professor is her family’s biggest enemy.

I really shouldn’t have liked this book as much as I did.  It was full of over the top drama, convenient plot twists, quite a few TSTL moments from characters that were supposed to know better and in places, I had absolutely no idea what was going on.  Nearly everyone has a different Talent, so it’s a little chaotic, and there’s some business about power stored in an inanimate object and a guardian and blood drinkers.. so, yeah.  But in the middle of the story, it makes more sense for the most part and is sort of exciting a lot of the time.

Tamsin herself was most obviously the reason I stuck with the story.  She got a raw deal from her family, especially her awful self-centered sister Rowena, and I wanted her to stick it to them, frankly.  I cheered every time she did something no one else could – she was Supergirl all of a sudden – and felt her pain when she realized exactly what her Talent was and what had been kept from her.  I liked her little budding romance with Gabriel – there were some swoony moments with him that were especially sweet and totally PG-rated.

This doesn’t end on a giant cliffhanger, but it does lead into important events in the next book, which is the final one and is going to be released in August.  I absolutely recommend you read this first if you’re planning on reading it because even with the quick recap at the beginning of Always a Witch, you’ll likely be lost if you don’t.

My Rating: B-




  1. Haha! Your reviews always make me laugh. In a good way, though. Sort of exciting a lot of the time, huh? I may have to check it out just based on that whole sentence!

  2. So the part about me not having any idea what was going on some of the time didn't throw you off? lol You are insanely good for me. :)It's a fairly good book for reasons I utterly failed to articulate. The second book is a lot darker. I picked this up to get to that one – I had it in my NetGalley queue and wanted to make sure I knew where the story started and I am so glad I did.

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