I read Once a Witch awhile ago. It feels like YEARS ago, but I can still remember that amazing feeling I had upon reading it. It was one of those books I felt had been written for me. Once a witch was exactly what I wanted to read and at the end I was pretty much dying for a sequel. So, when Christine informed me that Always a Witch was available on NetGalley, I jumped for a joy and spazzed out a bit…while at work…people at work think I’m a little strange.
Since the gripping conclusion of Once A Witch, Tamsin Greene has been haunted by her grandmother’s prophecy that she will soon be forced to make a crucial decision—one so terrible that it could harm her family forever. When she discovers that her enemy, Alistair Knight, went back in time to Victorian-era New York in order to destroy her family, Tamsin is forced to follow him into the past. Stranded all alone in the nineteenth century, Tamsin soon finds herself disguised as a lady’s maid in the terrifying mansion of the evil Knight family, avoiding the watchful eye of the vicious matron, La Spider, and fending off the advances of Liam Knight. As time runs out, both families square off in a thrilling display of magic. And to her horror, Tamsin finally understands the nature of her fateful choice.
This book was riveting. As you can tell by my other reviews on this site, I love books about witches. I will almost always read them, even if they look like they’re going to be horrible. And I knew this one wasn’t going to be horrible. And it blew my expectations out of the water. It wrapped up all the loose threads in such a neat manner, the ending left me feeling complete with the story in a way that I haven’t felt about any book in a long while. It was one of those perfect endings where everything to do with the plot was all wrapped up but you could tell the characters still had lives to live, still had problems to face.
I love the two main themes, the two worlds this book is about. On one side, there’s the fantasy setting, with magical Talents and time-travel, and spells and on the other, there is this complicated family dynamic. A family that is full of drama and problems and prejudices. And love. Tamsin’s family feels so real in this book, it reminds me of my own complicated, extended family with all of our eccentricities and oddness, though unfortunately my family isn’t a coven of witches, despite my wishes otherwise. And, even though we see less of Tamsin with her immediate family in this book then in the previous, you can feel how their influence effects every decision she makes, in both good and bad ways.
I wish I could spoil the end, because the end showcases this perfectly. Tamsin’s struggle to be accepted by her family throughout both books is brought to such a conclusion, and is so seamlessly woven into the climax of the story, that I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming. Especially with the titles of the books and the character arc Tamsin takes. It’s just so perfect it gives me chills.
This book is all about a choice that Tamsin has to make. And it isn’t clear until the very moment of it what that choice will be exactly. And when it happens, when I saw what Tamsin chose for herself and her family, well, I was very proud of her. And also sad for her.
I was glad Gabriel was there and would always know what had happened. For the first half or so of the book I was worried we weren’t going to see as much of Gabriel, whom I loved in the first book. I was very happy when he showed up again. And then I was doubly happy for his presence at the end. I just can’t get over the ending. It’s been almost a year since I read this book and the ending still makes my heartstrings clench. It was so…final. Which is awesome from a storytelling point of view, I’m sure I can’t be the only persona little sick of the cliffhanger endings we’ve been getting lately, but at the same time, I want to know more of Tamsin’s story.
But I guess that’s the mark of a good book. Feeling complete with the characters, but also needing more of them.
As an aside, there was this one point in the book where some of the characters lure a young boy into their house (not as creepy as it sounds) with the promise of a slice of cake. When he gets there, of course, there is no cake and I couldn’t help but think, “The cake is a lie!” And I laughed uproariously for a good five minutes. It was just such a perfect reference, especially because I don’t think the author intended it to be.