Review: Once a Witch By Carolyn MacCullough (Witch #1)

Title: Once A Witch (Witch #1)
Author: Carolyn MacCullough
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books
Synopsis/Summary: 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.
Find the Book on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

    When I picked up Once A Witch and went into it, I never once expected it to be a time travel novel, but I when do, I smiled. This book is good!

    The plot was a little flat and childish to me at the first half of the book,but in the other half, when things picked up, I genuinely enjoyed it. I like intricate and complex plots, so needless to say a book that dealt with the ripple effect of time-traveling is right up my alley. I liked to think about how things that the main characters did in the past would affect them and how. Of course, that's just me doing some excessive thinking, because MacCullough explained things to us very clearly. So even if you're the kind of person that just went along with the book and doesn't do too much thinking in between, you'll understand the plot and wouldn't be too confused. :)

    The book was also very fast-paced, a lot happened in the first half but then again, I always underestimate the amount of plot development an amazing author can do with 140 pages. However, there's definitely not enough plot twist and the climax wasn't gripping enough. Usually by the climax, I am racing with my brain to try to catch up with how fast my eyes were reading, but this book didn't make me feel like this. And there's no knock-your-socks-off moment at all.

    I must note that I love MacCullough's writing very much. The sentences she wrote painted a poetic picture in my head, and though it was a little hard to get used to at first, since most author is kind of straight to the point with the exclusion of describing surroundings. But MacCullough described her characters' actions with such beautiful words and comparisons, I can't help but feel intrigued in her writing :)

    Needless to say the world-building of this book is amazing. With a time travel plot, an author must be very careful. That means they can't treat time travel lightly, giving it only mild disturbance in the future, because as you know, there's a ripple effect with time traveling. McCullough handled it nicely, as most of the later parts of the plot were sprang from the ripple effects of time traveling. She did a good job to break down some time traveling laws in the characters' conversations without being too educational and practical. The time travel in this book wasn't confusing, yet it was good and handled nicely.

    I felt that there were not nearly enough character development in this book. It being so fast-paced, there were not many time to develop characters in terms of describing their feelings and addressing their changes throughout the story.

    Tamsin is the main protagonist of this book. I thought she was very whiny at first, and she was. She was born in a powerful witch family with no power and a perfect older sister, why wouldn't she be grumpy and whiny? But since she was a 17-year-old, I thought she would handle things more maturely, I guess I was wrong. Not that I don't like Tamsin, but I thought that her characteristics in the first half of the book was not fitting for her age. Lying just so she could prove herself? Getting in a fight with a child about using her Talent? Seriously, she was acting like a whiny brat and I couldn't stand it. Luckily, she evolved throughout the book and became more mature and assured with herself.

    Rowena was the evil older sister of Tamsin. Well, she was not necessarily evil, just that Tamsin thinks that she was oh so perfect and have everything she wanted handed to her. Actually, that was true. I have an older sister, and she was kind of like that too, not the perfect part, but the having everything she wanted part. She was away to study aboard now but I would never forgot how selfish she was when we were child, and how unreasonable she was treating me, yelling at me all the time, criticizing my every. Move. Okay, now my anger is flaring up... Anyway, I get why Tamsin didn't like her older sister very much. Rowena didn't grow much as a character either...

    Gabriel was the love interest. I liked him, he was easy-going and funny. I am not sure how and when he fell in love with Tamsin though. Their romance was just so right, and MacCullough just didn't bother to tell us how Gabriel fell in love and how Tamsin developed the same feelings towards him. Basically, they were acting all like best-friends within most of the book, and then they kissed, but they never talked about it. (At least not in this book) I like their romance, but it really was feeling kind of like it wasn't developed enough.

    I would give this book 3.8 stars. The plot was intriguing and fast-paced, not very shocking though. I like the time traveling but just that aspect couldn't really brought up my rating for the plot of the book which was 3.5 stars. The world-building was great, the idea of Talents wasn't unheard of, it was just named differently, but I like it. And I like how the world was kind of constructed based on the time-traveling, so I gave 5 stars to world-building. The characters were definitely not in depth enough and some characters were definitely acting out of their age, so I gave characters a 3.5 star. 

    I would recommend this book to YA paranormal readers. This one should definitely be shelved as paranormal powers (If you don't know what I am talking about, click this post where I discuss different kinds of paranormal). 

Rating: 3.8 stars!

This book was actually about witches, the witches in this book all have a special power they were born with that was called the Talent. So what Talent would you want to have? Do you want to try time traveling? Would you dare to do it? Discuss! I am waiting for your comments ;)


  1. Great review! Thanks! :D

    1. Glad you like it :) I actually wrote this review without an outline, but it turned out okay ;)

  2. This is a witch book that I haven't heard of....great review!