Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Tamsin comes from a long line of witches with special talents. In her family, some can see the future, some can find lost things, and some have the power of persuasion. Tamsin feels like an outcast though because it seems her talent never materialized. When a stranger mistakes her for her powerful sister Rowena, Tamsin goes along with the ruse because she wants to feel like she belongs. But is helping the stranger in his mission a terrible mistake?

There are quite a few aspects I really liked about this one. First, I found it refreshing to read a YA book where I didn’t have to attend a high school class. Tamsin mentions her school, but fortunately, none of the action happens there. Instead we get a couple of really fun backdrops including a creepy old NYC townhouse in several different time periods. Yep, the main character gets to time travel – and I always love that. In fact, I wish she would have done more of it (or that the author had written the modern scenes to be as evocative as those set in the past).

This was a very quick read for me, and it was entertaining enough. I just never developed a strong emotional connection to any of the characters (with the possible exception of Tamsin’s grandmother, who was stellar in her short yet pivotal scenes). I mean I liked Tamsin (and tolerated Rowena), but I never really feared for her or anything. Perhaps part of that is the fault of the rather anemic antagonist (seriously, the McDonald’s Hamburglar is more menacing). I also found it jarring that Tamsin smoked cigarettes, so despite the low scare factor, I’d be reluctant to recommend this to very young teens.

Still, I thought the mythology and world building were intriguing enough that I’d be willing to check out a sequel. (NOTE: I have no confirmation for this, but I’ve heard there is one due this year called ALWAYS A WITCH.)

ONCE A WITCH is now available in hardcover. Find out more about it at www.onceawitch.com

16 comments:

LovesSam said...

I bought this one a while ago and have never got round to reading it, it sounds fun, but i'm not expecting it to blow me away :-)

thekoolaidmom said...

I like the cover, it's lovely and inviting. For my girls, I don't worry so much about smoking in a book because they gag, hack, and choke around smoke and find it disgusting. I've raised them right ;-)

I think Mags would really enjoy this book, as she's a big Charmed fan, though I don't htink she's quite old enough just yet.

Lenore said...

I gag, hack, and choke around smoke too... that's why I prefer when only the bad guys smoke - like Cigarette Smoking Man on the X-files.

Lenore said...

Oh, and if she's old enough to watch Charmed, she's old enough to read this (from the themes anyway).

stacybuckeye said...

(seriously, the McDonald’s Hamburglar is more menacing)

Thanks for my first laugh of the morning :)

bermudaonion said...

The series sounds like it has promise. I'm trying to decide what power I'd want if I were a witch.

prophecygirl said...

I was the same as you Lenore - I never had a strong connection with any of the characters. If I had, I think I would have liked it more.

I'll still check out the sequel, if there is one.

Jami said...

I do like the idea of a YA book out of highschool. I'll probably give this one a shot when I want a quick read. Thanks for the review!

Staci said...

This one sounds interesting!!

Karen said...

I enjoyed this one but felt let down as it seemed to promise a lot more than it delivered. It ought to have a sequel after all that setting up!

(my review is at http://readingteenagefiction.blogspot.com/2009/11/review-once-witch-by-carolyn.html)

Donna Gambale said...

Awww a teen smoker? Well, points for realism. But I hate smoking --- even with adults. I swear, I'm always turned off by smoking MCs in TV/movies (like Carrie in SATC)... and I even get bummed when I find out my fave celebrity smokes.

But yes, I'm intrigued by the straightforward magic premise. Love me some magic power!

Zibilee said...

I like the fact that there is time travel in this book, but the smoking thing kind of niggles at me. I still might try to check this one out though because your synopsis makes it sound pretty interesting. Great review though I am sorry that you didn't totally love the book.

towerofbooks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krista/Tower of Books said...

I'm reading this right now, admittedly a little slowly, but I like it.

oO Mariana Oo said...

It looks like is worth trying, I really like the cover and the plot seems pretty interesting, Great review ;)

Irish said...

There will be one book followup to ONCE A WITCH, I believe it will be out later this year. And you have the title correct - its ALWAYS A WITCH.