ALWAYS A WITCH
(Once a Witch #2)
Paranormal Young Adult
Received via NetGalley for review
Warning: Synopsis contains spoilers from Once A Witch
Tamsin Greene has spent her entire life thinking she's the only one in her family without a Talent; a young woman with no gift in a family full of powerful individuals. As she learned recently, she was wrong. She's got a Talent, and it's one that makes her one of the strongest witches in her family.
Tamsin's newly discovered Talent makes her the ideal candidate to Travel back in time to alter past events that will save her family in the present. A long-running feud between the Knight family and the Greene family is jeopardizing the safety of everyone Tamsin loves, and so she finds herself infiltrating the Knight household years in the past to hopefully change the future.
Tamsin learns more about the Knight family than she ever wished to while playing her role, witnessing firsthand the cruelty with which some people use their gifts and knowing she'll be on the receiving end of their wrath should they learn who she really is. She's determined to save her family though, but what she soon comes to realize is that while she might do anything to help them, it may cost her everything in the process.
Always a Witch is an extremely well-executed sequel, delving us deeper into Tamsin’s world and the ever-shifting history of the war between her family and the Knights while augmenting the magical and emotional elements beyond what we experienced in book one. For those of us who read Once A Witch months before finally making our way to the sequel, Ms. MacCullough does a beautiful job of working details from the previous book into the narrative flow without it being blatantly obvious we’re being given a summary of a book we’ve already read, highlighting the most important parts for us so that our enjoyment of this second installment is at its highest. We are immediately tossed into the middle of magic, time travel, murder, and sacrifice, side by side with a young woman who is so much more than her Talent would define her as.
Tamsin is someone we instantaneously connected with in the first book, her outcast status amidst those who should have accepted her unconditionally making us defensive and protective of her as we all struggled to find footing when her world was turned upside down. Now, as perhaps the most powerful witch in her family, we find Tamsin to be much the same girl, her newfound Talent not robbing her of any of the traits we loved so much initially. She’s fiercely loyal to her family despite her lingering hurt over their deliberate withholding of information that would have changed her entire life had she known about it earlier, Traveling alone to the past to single-handedly save the Greene family past, present, and future. She stays cool and collected in the face of the horrors her family’s enemy proves capable of, always thinking, always planning, and always protecting friend and foe alike.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this series is the lack of an all-consuming romance. Tamsin’s relationship with Gabriel is solid, the drama stemming not from conflicted feelings or the addition of a new romantic player, but rather from some rather extraordinary tests that prove how deep their loyalty to one another runs. Their connection is very much secondary to challenges Tamsin faces as a maid in the Knight household, allowing us a respite from teenage angst as our focus remains unwavering on how Tamsin is going to wield the pen that will rewrite the history of her family. A beautifully unexpected twist awaits us at the end, one that answers some of the whys of her family’s behavior from the beginning but leaves us taken aback nonetheless, and we walk away from this read infinitely proud of a young woman we’ve learned never to underestimate in the two books we’ve spent with her.