Book Review: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Summary from Goodreads: 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.
First of all witches = epic awesomeness in my book.  Love witches.  I wish there were more great books about witchcraft out there, they are by far my favorite paranormals.
I really enjoyed Once a Witch.  The author, Carolyn MacCullough, has a fresh voice and Tamsin is a vividly realized character and extremely relatable.  I really like the first person present tense that the book was written in and the exciting, quick chapters.  The family dynamic was wonderful, I loved reading about their unconventional family home.  The love interest was sweet and a good match for Tamsin, their romance was very believable and never seemed forced.

The only thing that bothered me is the casual drinking and smoking.  I know that a lot of people will disagree with me here, but that seriously turns me off in a YA book.  Other than that I would have given it 5 stars.

What I learned about writing from reading the book:
The natural interactions between characters was wonderful.  I learned a lot about how to make relationships between characters seem genuine and un-forced.  I also studied the author’s awesome ability to weave in hints without making the reader realize that they’re learning something important.  And don’t even get me started on how great the world building is—the witchcraft was fun, unique, and fascinating.  Loved it!


  1. This book sounds so cool! Thanks for the tip :) I'm with you on the drinking and smoking thing, thumbs down! I also struggle with excessive language. Great review!

  2. Just stuck this in my 'to read' pile. I love witch books, too!

  3. I really liked this one! And Carolyn MacCullough was my teacher in a children's book writing class a few years ago. She's great!

  4. This is in my to-read pile!! It seems like a great book!


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