Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Once a Witch
Author: Carolyn MacCullough
Publisher: Clarion Books
Series: Witch #1
Pages: 292
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: September 14, 2009
How Received:  Library 
SummaryTamsin 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 agreed 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.
 My Thoughts:
Once a Witch involves a classic story where the main character, Tamsin, just doesn’t fit in – with her family or with the world. She turns to the real world for any semblance of normalcy, because the truth is this: Tamsin’s a witch. I love that the main character is the odd one out, the one who is a part of something special but completely cut off from it at the same time. She belongs, but she doesn’t belong.

The witch lore in this story was absolutely riveting. I love anything that deals with witches, but these witches were different. Instead of holding control over all magic, a witch is limited to their specific Talent. Their powers reminded me of geass’ in the anime Code Geass. Every time you use your Talent, its power diminishes bit by bit. Not only do they have special power, but they have limits on their power.

Every little thing that occurred in this novel was brought up later because everything had its own significance. It’s one of those books that you read, find out what happens, then re-read again and see how what happened fits into the bigger picture. Carolyn essentially slips us clues here and there, but I never pieced two and two together.

I loved Tamsin as the main character. She was bitter at not having a Talent, but she never took it out on those who did have Talents. She self-exiled herself to her room and to her own misery half the time, but she never gave up. What she did do was try her best not to let it bring her down, and that’s what brought her to her “normal” boarding school in New York. She wanted to impress her family and fit in so badly that she accepted a seemingly impossible task that does more damage, rather than help, to her family. Gabriel, the “main love interest”, was... charming. How else can I describe him? He’s witty, he’s a musician, and he was very blunt for a teenage boy. He’s gentlemanly, of course, but he thinks about sex just as much as the next kid, and that added to his realism.

Their romance was a little under-developed for my tastes. It was more like the romance took a backseat to the plot. Sure, Tamsin and Gabriel have history, but it’s a history we can’t see and they don’t really do much re-connecting. It mostly just felt like Tamsin thought Gabriel grew up hot, they have a few scenes together, and the next thing we know they’re together. Hopefully in the sequel there’s more romantic development (their first date better be included!).

Cover Musings: I love the color scheme – the brown, purple, and teal are perfect — and that girls’ hair! But I’m nitpicky and hated her fingernails. If I cover her hand up, this would be an awesome, intriguing cover. <3

Memorable Quotes:
I study his face closely, but he looks calm, relaxed, as if this is the most natural occasion, and with a sudden jolt I realize that for him it is. He’s truly home now, in a way that I’ll never be. I rest my eyes on a lone dandelion head that’s been crushed in the grass next to my left foot. (pg. 46)
“Ah,” my grandmother says. It’s one of her favorite words. Depending on the inflection, it means a whole bunch of different things. It could mean I was wondering when you would get around to telling me this. Or you continue to amuse me with your oh-so-predictable troubles. Or I see the solution to your problem even if you cannot. (pg. 113)
I think all those words line the walls of his brain and smother any desire to speak with us lesser mortals. Or maybe we smothered that out of him long ago when we refused to listen to his vast stores of knowledge for more than two seconds before running off or stuffing him headfirst into one of the barrels outside the barn that collected rainwater. In my defense I never did that. I just served as a lookout whenever anyone else did. (pg. 153)
I sigh. “I give up.”
Gabriel, wearing one of Uncle Chester’s charcoal suits, advances toward me. “You give up? You give up your foolish resistance to my undeniable charms? I knew you’d cave eventually. They always do.” (pg. 232)

Overall Thoughts/Final CommentsOnce a Witch is a very enchanting tale that combines romance and witchlore perfectly. It has elements of betrayal, mistrust, helplessness, time-travel, magic.. . You name it! The main character lived up to her mistakes and “followed through” with what she had started instead of dropping out and letting someone else clean up her mess.

While I did love this book, I wasn’t as fan-girly about it and it didn’t hook me right away. I’d like to think that it’s because the main love interests namesake (Gabriel) just broke my poor little hopeful heart in real life while I was reading, but I tried not to be too biased on how that affected my opinion of the book.I WAS, however, fan-girly about the trailer! Go check it out if you haven't!

Rating: 4/5

10 comments:

ajmitchell said...

I loved this one. I hadn't heard anything about it when I read it and was pleasantly surprised to find that I ended up loving it. I liked Tam and Gabriel's relationship but I understand where you are coming from. I just felt like Gabriel and Tam's dialog was written so well that I felt like I knew them both instantly and believed their closeness. Thanks for the awesome review!

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

You know what, Amber? I actually really loved your review of Once a Witch! Your review convinced me to read it, myself! :) I did believe the two were close, but they hadn't seen each other so long and they hardly ever asked what happened during that time. I only related it to my experiences: if I hadn't spoken to my bff for that long, I'd be all over her/him asking questions. I hope we get a more in-depth look of their relationship in Always a Witch. :)!

Sam said...

Love the cover!
The book sounds really interesting too, I love anything about witches. It's gone on my to-read list, thanks for the recommendation :)

Danna said...

Thanks for the review! I just added it to my "to buy list". I've seen the cover of Always a Witch and I really want to get that one when it comes out. The covers are so pretty and I love witch tales:)
-Danna

Straylights said...

Witches! WITCHES!!! I'm going to have to read this, cause after reading Hex Hall, I want MORE witches! Great review! Going to see if they have this at the LiBrArY! <---dont know why I typed like that :-/

Sadie said...

This sounds so good. You can be sure that I'll be adding this to my TBR pile.

Thanks for sharing. :]

Ashlie Swainston said...

Dang girl! You have a sweet mailbox! Huntress is totes on my list and I LOVE the cover of Once a Witch. I already wanted to read it, so thanks for helping what little patience I have take a hike!

Your Nightshade review is up on mine, thanks so much for doing that!

<3 Ashlie

Faye said...

i saw the 2nd book on NetG. I need to read this one. this series looks great!

Brazen Broads Book Bash said...

Coming over via the Follow Friday from the Brazen Broads. (I know, it's Tuesday...what can I say. I have a house full of sons that wrestle...so I lose my weekends to wooden bleachers. Ha!)
This is a wonderful review. I am unfamiliar with the series or the author, but my interest is piqued. I like your summary of photo, genre, how book received, etc... at the top of the review.
Moira Naveen ~ Brazen Broads Book Bash

Hyacinth Marius said...

This was a really well-written, fun read. Tamsin is fun and adventurous and her family of witches are very eccentric. Gabriel, a childhood friend and Talented one, has just moved back to New York and is very interested in Tamsin. I loved all the magic and even time travel in this book. It was a great mystery and I can't wait for the next book about Tamsin and her family.

Hyacinth
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