Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review: Always A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Always A Witch (Once a Witch) by Carolyn MacCullough

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Clarion Books (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0547224850
ISBN-13: 978-054774855
Series: Once A Witch #1
Source: ARC provided by author
Cover: This is an absolutely gorgeous cover. It's so dark and dreamy and I love how porcelain white the model is in her dark black dress. Plus, the crows in the background actually mean something! This cover is a smash hit!
First Sentence: "I was born on the night of Samhain."

Mini-Review: A riveting sequel, combing time travel, witch-craft and all the romance of century go by with the same charm as the first!

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. 
Book Review:

Tasmin and her family of funny witches are back in Always A Witch with a brand new story that kicks time traveling up a notch. Filled with the beautiful writing of the first novel, some new characters love and a heart-racing plot, Always A Witch is every bit as good as the first!  

Tamsin really shone for me in the first novel. As the black sheep in her family, she held her head high and when she messed up, she worked to fix her mistakes. She took ownership instead of running. She hasn't changed even though she's come into a power that is more impressive than all of her family combined. This time, she's not as much cleaning up her own mess as helping her family fix theirs. She's just as clever as the first novel and has an ease about her even though she's in really stressful situations that makes her a pleasure to read. It helps that Tam's Talent is incredibly powerful and the author doesn't shy away from this fact or downplay it. Tam can do some damage and she does on more than one occasion.  

I do wish I'd see a bit more of Gabriel though. There is a really good excuse for his not being there and he is more present closer to the end which makes me happy. Plus, you could see that Gabriel was doing a lot in the background and once he does show up, the reader and Tam see just how much! I really like Gabriel and Tamsin's relationship. It never feels forced but rather like they are meant to be together. They also trust each other and rely on each other to get through situations. They do have their bumpy patches in this novel but their willingness to work it out and talk was refreshing. 

The plot had my heart racing which doesn't generally happen. The fact that Tam was charged with saving her family by going back into a time she didn't know a lot about had me freaking out. Tam's task to save her family through a flight back in time and finish cleaning up the mistakes of her path had me stressed for her. But as I mentioned before, Tam's good attitude and "go with it" mentality helped relieve tension. The ending is sad and happy all in one, and is completely satisfying.  

I liked that you could tell the author did a lot of research about the Victorian era without shoving it in your face. Ms. MacCullough also doesn't make her character an expert on the time period she's going to. There is this charming scene when Tam first gets to where she is going (don't want to reveal too much!) and she freaks out and searches under the bed for a chamber pot. The girl leading her around laughs at her foolishness. The blending of facts and a healthy amount of common knowledge from Tam really make this time traveling story sparkle and adds some laughter to the story. The same exceptional writing graces this second installment and I found myself reading far more chapters than I meant to before bed.  

Always A Witch utilizes the foundation set in the first installment to weave an intoxicating spell on its reader that will have them racing for a conclusion that doesn't disappoint. With Always A Witch, Ms. MacCullough proves that once a fan, always fan.



  1. Lovely review & I completely agree with everything you said! I loved this one, probably even more than the first book. The ending was especially amazing!

  2. I really liked Always a Witch. Thought it was very resolved at the end and there wasn't any plot lines that were left unfinished.

  3. Always a Witch sounds like an awesome book! I loved Once a Witch, but I haven't gotten around to getting the sequel. I loved the idea of Tamsin going back in time to fix her mistakes. I was a bit sad in reading your review when you said that Gabriel doesn't appear that much in the book! Can't wait to get this book!

  4. How have I never heard of this series before?! Witches & time travel seems like an awesome mix. And I ansolutrly love it when an author can mix in some humor. Great review!

  5. It is so hard to find a book that not only makes your heart race but also has a satisfying ending. I am really excited for the time traveling aspect of this book, I haven't read many books that use time travel. Thanks for the review.

  6. I love solid female characters, I'm glad to see that Tamsin fits that profile. I really don't like when a series concludes and and the ending is unsatisfactory. It's happened one to many times and it leaves me with too many questions.

  7. The premise is just excellent. I'm hooked by that alone. Plus, your recommendation makes it all the better. This sounds like a satisfying read.

  8. I'm so excited to read this book! It's nice to hear that there's a strong lead AND a strong plot - it must be good! :D Great review Amber! :)

  9. I didn't now this book but it sounds great, I love books with witches. Thanks for your review

  10. I've had Once a Witch on my to-read list and I'm glad the sequel is worth reading too. I will definitely have to start this series.

  11. Great review. I remember when Once a Witch was first coming out I really wanted to read it but never have. After reading your review of the second one, I really must read these two now.

  12. I'm starting Once a Witch pretty soon here and I'm REALLY excited about it and especially Always a Witch. I've heard great things and your review has only added to that. I'm glad to hear that Tamsin doesn't automatically know what she's doing once she goes back in time like some characters do. That's so much more realistic and funny I think. Great review!

  13. This sounds like a wonderful book! I love time travel and the Victorian era, plus the characters sound lovely. :)

  14. Thanks for the review. I was on the fence with this series but with recommedations to read it I will now.

  15. do you think that this book can just be read by itself?


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