Once a Witch — Fun Read from Carolyn MacCullough

Last night I went to sleep at 10:30 because I wanted to finish reading Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough. I read the book on the kindle iPad app, and discovered, once again, how difficult it is for me to read a book when I can’t skip ahead to see what happens.

I suppose it is possible to do that on the app, but I haven’t quite mastered all the options, and anyways, it wouldn’t be the same. I like to skim through the book to find conversations, names and locations and learn more about the plot. On the app, turning the pages is very different from flipping through paper and letting luck lead me to an interesting page. Often I read the ending. Knowing the end does not interfere with my enjoyment of the book. I love seeing how an author works toward the resolution, and I love being surprised by the author’s choices in getting there.

Once a Witch is fun to read. Tamsin, the main character, is the only one in her family who does not have a magical talent. Her father controls weather patterns. Her mother winks in and out of rooms. Her grandmother reads minds, and her sister can talk you into doing anything she wants. The other members of her family all have talents as well, but Tamsin, who was prophesied to be a “beacon” to the family, has no talent at all.

I tend to identify with characters who feel alienated from everyone around them. Tamsin is different twice: she is different from all the other teens (represented by her friend Agatha) because she belongs to a witchy family. But she also does not belong with her family, because she is the only one who is not really a witch. I thought that a great concept.

Tamsin is asked by a mysterious (and good looking) man who mistakes her for her sister to find a clock for him that has been lost a hundred years ago. She is enthusiastically assisted by her witchy friend Gabriel whose talent is for finding lost items and for traveling through time — how convenient.

Finding the clock leads to a lot of trouble. Traveling through time has consequences, and Tamsin must leap to the rescue of her sweet-talking sister and her friend, Agatha, both of whom are bewitched by the mysterious villainous man.

The book flows, is easy to read, and already has a sequel out titled Always a Witch. I like that it shows that sometimes feeling different is more in our heads than in reality. Tamsin doesn’t even begin to know what being different means until she discovers the secret her entire family has been hiding from her, and the story build to an exciting end.

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