Once a Witch
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Tamsin 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 agrees 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. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.
Once a Witch is a book I picked up on a lark at the library. I was there picking up some holds and swung around to see the featured genre case for the month, and it was apparently time traveling. When I read the blurb to this book I didn't see a focus on time traveling, instead I saw it was an urban fantasy about a girl born into a family of witches and finds herself without any powers, and I will admit I'm quite a sucker for tales like that. I grew up feeling like that kind of girl so I get a selfish pleasure out of reading such characters triumphing.
As I begun reading this book, I was sucked into the urban fantasy world immediately. I wanted to be a part of Tamsin's family, where everyone has a "talent" that shows itself before they turn eight years old. Tamsin is obviously upset being around her family for good reason, she was supposed to have this talent as well, and now every time she she's her family using it, it sears through her.
The storytelling is deceptively simple, but as you continue, you realize there are hints and foreshadowing all across the plot. Everything happened for a reason and I found that very delightful. A book which seems to be a book about a sullen teenager feeling out of place, turned out to be so much more.
Which brings me to the time traveling, which is so well done. Whenever time travel is involved I always like to see how the author interprets it. In MacCullough's world, every little thing you do in the past affects the future. What we don't realize is that everything that has affected Tamsin's life, including her name, is an affect of the trips to the past she took. It is why her grandmother proclaims her to be the greatest witch. It is why she has a crazy great aunt going on about losing things. It is why Tamsin's power is known to everyone and her everyone takes precautions to keep her from learning two million talents.
And honestly it is that interconnected-ness that really made me like this book a lot.
I recommend this book to people who like urban fantasies about witches, especially when done nicely well, like this one. Who likes epic eternal rivalries and excellent foreshadowing.