October 21, 2010

Review: Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Always a Witch
Author: Carolyn MacCullough
Publisher: Clarion
Series: Witch, Book 2
ISBN: 9780547224855
Publication Date: August 1, 2011
Pre-Orfer Information:
Amazon | The Book Depository

*ARC generously provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

For more information please visit Carolyn MacCullough's website.

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.


This is the second novel in MacCullough’s Witch series featuring Tamsin Greene and is a fun book filled with action, suspense and some extremely lovable characters. While this novel doesn’t add a lot of depth the magical world it creates, we are instead drawn to the characters.

From the first moment I was drawn to Tamsin, a witch who has gone most of her life not knowing that she had a Talent or magical power. She is feisty with a sarcastic wit, often speaking before thinking, but she is also extremely giving. It is obvious that she loves her family and would do anything to protect those she cares for as seen by putting herself in danger repeatedly in the family’s past to preserve their futures. Her family is also quite endearing. They are eccentric and add a nice levity to the first few chapters of the novel showing us why Tamsin would be willing to protect them so vigorously. We are also introduced to Gabriel, her boyfriend, who is able to Travel in time and locate whatever he is looking for. He captures the heart early on in his devotedness towards Tamsin and his desire to be by her side through whatever peril she finds herself in.

Alternately, the villains of the story are no less well written or interesting. Instead we are shown behind otherwise closed doors seeing the family as they are in their varying degrees of wickedness. We see the charm of Liam, the love of Jessica and the pure loathsomeness of La Spider. We also see the sacrifices they make towards one another, most evident in Alistair giving up his talents to further Liam’s experiments into blood magic. This is to allow his family to overtake the Greenes before they can bind their magic.

The story itself is well written mixing past and present effortlessly. While not overtaking the novel with descriptions on the New York of another century we are still made to feel the era through the language and settings of the novel. Also the pace of the story has a nice cadence integrating action and suspense as well as drama keeping the reader wanting to know more and pushing through the chapters. I was extremely impressed at the flow of the novel as well. Often first person point of views become hindered in hashing all the little details, but this author did a marvelous job at giving just enough of the characters thoughts and emotions without bogging down the story in pointless details.

While the characterization and plot of the novel were wonderful, I was most captured by the themes running throughout of family. All the families, good and evil, are close knit and work together to achieve their goals regardless of the morality of them. For me, this was the most captivating piece of the story, the sacrifices that we make for those we love and I feel this it is a wonderful theme for teens and readers of all ages. We often take our families for granted too often, especially in our youth while trying to find our independence. But, the main character Tamsin is able to create her identity despite feeling like an outcast within her family and yet still be a close member of it loving and being loved in return.

Overall, for me this was a nice story that kept me interested. However, if you haven’t read the first novel in the series as I hadn’t, it is a little tough sorting out past events and getting a grip on the aspect of Travel and the feud between the two families. I highly suggest reading the first novel Once a Witch to make reading this one a bit simpler. If it is anything like this one, you won’t be disappointed.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

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