Always a Witch (Witch #2)

Always a WitchBy Carolyn MacCullough

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: August 1, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Netgalley

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.

Goodreads Summary

This is the second book in the series, following Once a Witch (Witch #1) and there are going to be some necessary spoilers. I’ve read the books in order so it’s hard for me to say if this can be read as a standalone – there are elements here that I don’t think will make a lot of sense without reading the first book although there’s a nice little catch-up in the beginning. Obviously my advice: read the first book before you read Always a Witch.

Having finally come into her full Talent as a witch, Tamsin has been made the keeper of the Domini – a locket that contains the power of an opposing house of witches. Unfortunately before she became the keeper, one of its members was able to siphon just enough power to send himself into the past to warn his family that Tamsin’s will have control over them. If he’s successful, his family will eradicate the Greenes and there never will have been anyone to create or hold the Domini and the evil house of Knights will rule.

Tamsin’s Talent is that she can mimic any other witch’s – however, she’s limited in how long she can use it. Her boyfriend Gabriel’s Talent is the ability to find objects and he’s learned to do it even through time travel. Tamsin and Gabriel have time traveled before and when she learns Alistair Knight has gone to 1887, before her family bound his family’s powers, she decides to go after him alone rather than let anyone else be hurt this time even though she knows she won’t be able to get back.

Tamsin manages to luck into a job in the Knight household as a lady’s maid before Alistair locates them. While she’s trying to find the Greene family and come up with a plan to stop Alistair, she gets some extra help from an unexpected, angry source – Gabriel, who managed to locate her.  He and Tamsin have to slip out from under the watchful eyes of the evil Knight matriarch and her slimy son and once Alistair reaches them, it’s up to the Greene family and Tamsin to recreate history and lock them in the Domini.

I really enjoyed the first book even though there were too many things going on and a lot of things were completely over the top. There are too many things going on in this book too and while a lot less of it’s over the top and there’s more emotional maturity to it, I enjoyed it a just little bit less.

While the last story may have been more of a family effort, this book is nearly completely Tamsin’s. She’s really stepped into her Talent, establishing herself as a powerful member of her family and has become very courageous. She’s gone back to 1887, not knowing what exactly she’ll be sacrificing or how to stop Alistair and his family but having had several members of her family already hurt by him, she plans to take him on alone. I think what I love best about her is that she’s fiercely protective of her entire family and is willing to take on the role of protector for them even when up until recently they’d been hiding things from her.

I’m hiding that big spoiler stuff behind white text – it was revealed in the last book, but if you haven’t read it, it was a big one.

Tamsin’s grandmother prophesied at her birth that she would become the most powerful witch in the family but she never came into her Talent and remained the only witch who never did. She was teased and other witches used to bully her because of it. She only accidentally discovered her Talent was being able to mimic any other witch and when she confronted her parents, found out her immediate family had been hiding it from her all along because they feared what she could do with it.

Gabriel isn’t as much of a factor in this book as he was in the last, mostly because he doesn’t really appear alone with Tamsin until about halfway through and even then they’re working to stop Alistair and not spend time together. There’s less romance too and I think it may be because the author’s made the assumption that you’ve read the first book and know their relationship already. Tamsin and Gabriel have a nice familiarity with each other here and while he’s still sexy and charming it’s in a strong, capable and dependable way. He plays an important and emotional role in the most important part of the book near the end involving a choice Tamsin has to make and I couldn’t think of a character better suited for it.

As with the first book, this has some odd little plot holes and things that either don’t make a lot of sense or just seem to be too much silliness for the story including the intended levity of Tamsin’s sister Rowena’s wedding preparations. Rowena has turned into bridezilla and has chosen to have fits about everything, especially Tamsin’s bridesmaid’s dress. It sounds a little strange in the context of the seriousness of the paranormal story and it is about twenty-five percent over the top, but it sort of works because of the theme of Tamsin’s dedication to her family no matter what. It was a case of figuratively shrugging my shoulders, enjoying the writing and letting myself get swept up in the emotional impact rather than sweating the odd stuff.

My Summary: There are a lot of prophesies and dramatic foreseeing that take place to remember, the most important being the prophecy Tamsin’s grandmother gave to her mother at Tamsin’s birth: “Your daughter will be one of the most powerful we have ever seen in this family. She will be a beacon to us all.” The riddle is finally answered in a climactic, emotional way that puts a satisfying if a little melancholy seal on this wild series. Tamsin is a terrific character at the center of some occasionally over the top craziness, but her romance with Gabriel and the love she has for her family is where the story shines.

My Rating: B-




  1. I still need to read the first one in this series. Does Tasmin have any TSTL moments? Sounds like her personalitiy would have a lot o those. Love your new spoiler feature! It works great. And you know I'll read every single one you put up there. lol

  2. Hi Cait! Would you believe Tamsin is probably the only character who doesn't have any TSTL moments? lol She manages to find herself in a lot of situations that are a little improbable and awfully lucky, but she's probably the most stable thing in the books. There's a lot of wacky going on – lots of really exciting and dramatic wacky.How did I know you'd read the spoilers? Thanks for noticing my shiny new toy. 🙂 I live to tweak – if I didn't play around with the blog, I'd have perpetually itchy fingers.

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