Saturday, April 30, 2011

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

This was actually a book I kept finding myself drawn to at bookstores, for it’s pretty cover, but then putting down after reading the back. The back makes it sound like a bad Disney movie where the main character has to learn to accept the fact that she is not like the rest of her extraordinary family (especially her gorgeous, almost perfect sister), but that it doesn’t matter because she is great in her own not so extraordinary way.
I am so glad I decided to pick this book up because it was so much more than that. Sometimes after picking up the same book so many times at various locations, I give in and read it. It also helped that there were blurbs from Cassandra Clare and Megan McCafferty, two favorites of mine.
The back of the book pretty much described the first 50 pages or so. Did the publisher actually read it? So it does deal with the main character (Tasmin) feeling super ordinary and under-appreciated in a family full of witches with various talents like mind control and clairvoyance. However, there is also a sweet romance side story, random bits of time traveling, fights between magical rivals, family secrets, and so much more. There is a great action scene at Grand Central Station in NY, involving the constellations on the ceiling, the giant clock, and a magical door that can appeal to anyone who have ever seen those stars.
This was a fun quick read and the sequel is coming out soon. I definitely plan on picking that book up a lot quicker than I picked up this one. However, there were some key annoying things I need to point out: 1) random things her love interest did that did not make sense for a guy (like knowing how to do her hair in a 30’s style hairdo before a particular time traveling experience, and giving no explanation for as why he could style her hair, and it’s not like he has a sister…) 2) the crazy, eccentric family of commune living witches was hilarious, yet not that believable to me. I loved the concept and all the possible, snarky, sarcastic humor that could have gone a long with them, didn’t. For me to care about her family enough to go along with her risking her life for them, I need to know them more (sarcasm or no). And 3) the weird scene jumps did not flow well. I get that chapters can start in new places and times without too much transition, but this was a little much sometimes. Sometimes, it felt like the author did this to avoid writing certain scenes that might have been too complicated. And she does it in a subtle way, in which you don’t really get that she did that till way past the fact, by which point you’re too into the story to think back too much. Like one second, her best friend is in drastic danger, and then she’s not mentioned again till the end and there was no closure or explanation about what happened to her. Everything is just back to normal.
Yet, despite these things, I really did enjoy reading this. It’s not the author’s fault that her publisher did not know how to sell her book right, though I guess something was right if I bought it any way (…the appeal of a pretty cover). And I loved Tasmin. She was sarcastic, witty, and clever in a way that I wish more YA main characters were! Yes, some of her self-doubt and lack of confidence was annoying, but it was very believable given her situation in her family. And I think what I loved about her the most, was her ability to shine through despite all that self-doubt.  I give it a 7/10. And I look forward to its sequel coming out in August.


  1. This is on my to read list...and I'm now realizing how little I know about it. ha!

  2. I hope you read it soon, Christina, because I would love to hear your opinion on it!