Once A Witch

Main Characters:

Tasmin – a 17 year old girl who is part of a special family.  She is raised to believe that unlike everyone else in her family  she has no “Talent”.  She feels like an outcast since her family is full of people with special abilities and when she was born, her grandmother (who can see the future) declared that she would be a “beacon” to the family and would be so very important.  She has felt like a disappointment her whole life since her Talents never materialized.  We then learn, not too far into the story that Tasmin does in fact have a Talent.  She can absorb others’ Talents.  And she can prevent people from using their Talent.  Not to mention people can’t use their Talent on Tasimn if she doesn’t want them to.

Gabriel – the son of a very distant cousin.  He and his mother moved away when he and Tasmin were little children.  But, it seems that he has always had a thing for Tasmin.  He has the ability to find things.  And, secretly, he has the ability to Travel – time travel, that is – despite the fact that such a Talent was thought lost generations ago (and is forbidden).  He and Tasmin kiss at one point (while in 1939) and it seems that they are together at the end.

Rowena – Tasmin’s older sister.  She is a know-it-all and isn’t pleasant to Tasmin.  She has the ability to make inanimate objects talk, and she can compel people to do things through the sound of her voice.  She is scheduled to get married when the book opens but is put under a spell by Alistair and therefore thinks she’s in love with him.  She has the ability to read the family book that tells the future (and the past) as well, although she can not read it as well as her grandmother.  She has known all along about Tasmin’s ability but never said anything.  When Tasmin discovers her Talent, Rowena continues to be condescending and arrogant and a really b*$@h to Tasmin.

Alistair Callum (really, Alistair Knight) – masquerades as Alistair Callum, an NYU professor who has lost a clock.  He wanders into the store that the Greene family owns looking for Rowena.  He is bitter and angry that his family has been stripped of their powers.  He has learned all that he needs to so that if the opportunity presents itself he can use the power.  He gets that opportunity and manages to get Rowen under a spell.  He also manages to get Tasmin to open the clock in Grand Central station (which becomes the Domani after Tasmin touches the clock) and lets him Travel back in time, to what we are lead to believe is before the Greene family binds the Knight family’s power into the Domani.

Althea Greene (Grandmother to Tasmin) – Has the ability to see the future.  Despite her prediction when Tasmin is born that Tasmin will be a beacon with great Talent, she is the one who believes that Tasmin needs to grow up in ignorance of her Talent, to aid her in making a great decision at one point.

Aunt Beatrice – her Talent is to freeze people with a touch to their forehead.  She sees Tasmin and Gabriel when they travel back to 1939.

Agatha – Tasmin’s totally normal, non-Talented roommate at her boarding school.

Main Premise:  The Greene family is a family of witches.  Tasmin originally thought she didn’t have a Talent like the rest of her family.  One night while working in the family bookstore, a man comes into the store looking for Rowena, and looking to have something he is looking for found.  Tasmin, in an attempt to prove that she isn’t useless, lets the man believe that she is Rowena.  Tasmin doesn’t understand what she is doing however.  She has no idea that by finding the clock she will be unraveling time and who knows what else.

Locations:  NY City primarily, with visits to upstate NY

Other important things to remember for later:  Tasmin is now the keeper.  And only the current keeper of the Domani knows who the keeper is or what the object is.  Except for Tasmin (because of her Talent), no one can touch the Domani without it killing them.  It seems that the object always is some sort of clock  – it is currently Tasmin’s locket, which had a clock inside. When someone tries to use their Talent against Tasmin, she temporarily (at least) absorbs it so she has the same talent too.  When she first Travels with Gabriel to find the first clock, she absorbs the ability to use fire.  When she travels again she absorbs the ability to freeze people like Aunt Beatrice.  Rowena is scheduled to get married on Halloween.  Tasmin’s grandmother tells Tasmin about the way the Knight family was bound – that it involved killing a person (nods to each of the four cardinal directions and an element and then the 5th thing “in the center of the circle” was blood – the blood of the person who’s life they took) and Tasmin knows that she is one of very few people who know about the killing.  Rowena can read the book, like their grandmother, that tells the future and the past.  Rowena knew all along that Tasmin had a Talent.  Alistair went through the clock in Grand Central Station to go back in time to before the Domani was created.  He wanted to take Rowena with him, since his family for years has spoken of Rowena as the key to the return of their power.  Rowena was under a spell, which involved taking of her blood, for a while and she thought she was in love with Alistair.  Grandmother says the impact of Tasmin’s actions in going back in time and unwittingly helping Alistair have cause the book to go blank – as if the family no longer exists.  Traveling is forbidden but we don’t know much about it or why other then the notion that simply touching something could cause irreparable damage to the future.

Review:  While not a tremendously long book, this was an interesting story.  Time travel is usually a difficult aspect of a book for me to digest, but it is well done here.  The character development, at least with respect to Tasmin, is well done.  I feel that I have gotten to know the character so that being inside her head makes sense and I am not left trying to put too many pieces together. I feel the outrage at her family that she feels because they kept her in the dark.

The writing is quick paced.  We aren’t really given a lot of down time between scenes that move the plot forward.  While I would have liked to see a little bit more between Gabriel and Tasmin, since there seems to be some chemistry between the two, it is nice to see that Gabriel isn’t some bad guy who’s just misunderstood or someone not good for Tasmin (if you are a YA genre reader, you know the kind of coupling that I am talking about).  Instead, he’s a normal (although he has a Talent) guy who seems to be nice and just genuinely likes Tasmin.

The story is cleverly crafted so as to give us the potential for quite a story arc later.  The time traveling could result in many different story options later.  The love story between Gabriel and Tasmin could also be developed much further.  If the series keeps up the great pace and the action scenes, I think it will be a wonderful series.  I was pleasantly surprised by the edge-of your seat scenes (will they get out of 1939 alright? will Rownea be sucked into the giant time traveling clock with Alistair?).  While they weren’t wholly unpredictable they did leave me wondering what direction the story was going to go in and how the characters were going to get themselves out of the situations in which they found themselves.  Tasmin’s lack of forethought and lack of a plan when going to confront Alistair and try to save Rowena was refreshing.  Normally, we see these grand plans and they run afoul, but it’s much more refreshing to see a teenager with a teenager’s response – to brashly decide to try to save a family member without much of a plan.

My pet-peeves with respect to the development of the relationship between the lead “couple” don’t really apply since the book wasn’t really about the love story – since that was peripheral and not really all that developed yet.  In fact, nothing more then a kiss and a few non-dates occur during this book.  The story really is more about the magic – the witch-ness- and the story of the families.  I am hopeful that we will see a little more development of the romance in the next book (or more, if there are to be more). From time to time, there was a little comic relief too, which is nice in stories like this.

A good story, with promise for additional installments.

2 comments

  1. There’s the second book called Always a witch,witch along with Once a witch make the Witch series by Carolyn MacCullough.So the story doesn’t end at Once a witch.

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