Book Reviews

[review] Always a Witch – Carolyn MacCullough

Release Date: August 1, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

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.

Discovery: After reading Once a Witch, I wasn’t going to stop until I’d finished the gorgeous sequel.

+     Conflicts. I’ll try to talk about this positive point without spoiling the ending to Once a Witch. Tamsin doesn’t see herself as the black sheep of the family anymore, but that sudden shift doesn’t go unnoticed by the rest of the family. She has to deal with the fact that more than half of the family is now afraid of her. I loved that Carolyn MacCullough doesn’t shy away from writing about the awkward situations that are sure to pop up, and I liked that she didn’t discount Tamsin’s own feelings about it.

+     Historical context. I mentioned in my review of Once a Witch that I would have liked to see more of the Greene’s history. What made them the kind of witches they are, and what really makes them different from the Knights? This novel answers all of those questions, giving Tamsin and the reader both families’ perspectives. Some may disagree with me, but I do think that the Knights are written in a sympathetic manner.

–     Rushed pace. I peeked at the number on the last page before I started reading and was dismayed to see 288. It was disappointing how how short the novel is, and it’s quite obvious in the pacing. Tamsin is quite pressed for time in her quest to find out what’s going on with her family’s history, but there are times when the writing suffers because of that rush.

Recommendations:  As a sequel, Always a Witch serves its purpose, but it does leave the reader wanting more. Unfortunately,  it doesn’t seem as though Carolyn MacCullough’s set it up that way.

Rating:  Good.

Go check out Carolyn MacCullough’s website and follow her on Twitter @cmaccullough.

You can check out Always a Witch on Goodreads and order it over at Amazon and Book Depository.

Next review: Cleopatra’s Moon, Vicky Alvear Shecter


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