Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
This is a sequel to Once a Witch which starts at Tasmin Greene's birth, predicting that she will be the most powerful witch every seen in her family. However, her power doesn't manifest at the age of eight like the other members of her family and she does her best to live her life as normal as she can. She does this by going to high school in New York City away from her family and having a normal best friend, Agatha. One weekend when she is helping out in her family shop, a man named Alistair Callum comes into the store asking for her sister, Rowena, to help him find a clock long lost in his family. Tasmin tells him that she is Rowena and takes on the task, a choice that will lead her to find the clock that could have serious consequences for her whole family. When you meet Tasmin's family, you really cheer her on to do whatever she can to save them. Every character is defined and distinct, which is definitely an added plus when Tasmin jumps back and forth between the past and present.
The second book, Always a Witch, continues on this quest to save her family. This time, Tasmin knows that she has her own Talent of taking others Talents. She has to go back into the past to the 1800s to come face to face with the Knight family, the true family of Alistair Callum (Knight). Years ago, they wanted to use the fifth element (ie: earth, air, and fire) for their own devices. The fifth element being that of blood. The Greene family, Tasmin's family, bound a spell that would prevent this from happening. With Alistair able to time travel, Tasmin must make sure that he doesn't go back to stop her family from saving innocent poor people who the Knight killed for their blood magic. This time, however, Tasmin doesn't let her boyfriend Gabriel help her and she goes on her own.
When Tasmin arrives in the past, she gets a job working for the Knight family's daughter and learns more about each of their own Talents. It is hard not to feel on edge while she is serving the people and wondering when Alistair will eventually show up to warn the Knight family. Also, Tasmin tries to save innocent people from being used for their blood and the risk of her getting caught is always nagging at the back of my mind.
This book is different from the first since we don't see much of Tasmin's family, which to me, was the highlight of the first book. Instead, we see the other side of what magic can do and what it can do to people in the process. Tasmin proves herself a strong heroine who struggles with her new found ability and has to decide how she wants to live her life.
These books are so much different than other things that I have read lately. Tasmin feels like a real person with her already established relationship with her best friend, a torn friendship and blooming romance with Gabriel, her fighting and caring for her sister, and even her admiration for her grandmother. The people in her life matter, and even with the lack of their appearances in the second book, they are with Tasmin every step of the way from her using her best friend Agatha's name as a decoy and using her Talent to keep Gabriel safe by willing him not to find her. This sense of commitment to people doesn't feel forced and are easy to relate to in one way or another.
I really enjoyed the ending of the book, as well, and I love that it wasn't something ordinary or expected. I think fans of the first book have a real treat in store for them.
4.5 Stars-- Really liked Once a Witch
4 Stars-- Liked Always a Witch
Check out the author's website.
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the chance to read this book.