Before we get to the review, we have another contest winner to announce!
Mrs. Heise, you win a copy of Matched by Ally Condie. Congrats. I love being able to force, er….enable people to read this book. I wish we could give one to everyone.
On with the review!
Reading this book brought a special joy to me. About halfway through I realized it was the book I’d always wanted to write, or something very close to it, except someone else had done all the work, then put it in the bookstore for me as a present. Which is amazing.
When Tamsin Greene is born her grandmother makes an announcement that she will be the most powerful member of her family ever. See, she comes from a family of witches and now they all think she is going to have the most amazing Talent. Except her power never shows up. She can’t do magic at all. She becomes an outcast in her family. Different for being normal.
This is one of those books I bought blind. Meaning I’d never heard of it or the author but I liked the cover, liked the blurb, read a page or so in the store and decided it was for me. I love finding books that way. Books with no buzz and no possibility of disappointment.
I’ve also always had a strange fascination with witches in all kinds of fiction. I especially love books, like this one, that combine the ritual and prayer side of things that do exist in the world with the fantastical, immediate results of magic. There are so many things that I loved about this book but the biggest one was definitely Tamsin’s relationship with her family. How she feels as if she has let them all down so completely that there is no way she could ever be a part of the family. She says she wants to get away because they are weird and strange, but really she is the weird one among them. A witch who can’t do magic? And she was supposed to be a beacon for them. The most powerful of them.
Who hasn’t felt this disappointment from their family? Who hasn’t known that they just don’t fit in and need to get as far away as possible? I loved that. It was so well done. Well done metaphors are the best things ever.
The characters in this story, especially Tamsin and her sister, are so well drawn. The author nailed that connection one can only have with a sibling, that relationship where you can do and say the most awful things to them, and they to you ,yet you can still love each other. You’re still family.
Another thing I loved about this book, no love triangle. There is a love interest, and he is pretty awesome, but no triangle. And it didn’t feel like it was missing anything either. I find this so rare in YA books these days. In fact, though the romantic relationship is important, it is not the most important in the story. The most important, once again, is between Tamsin and her family, which is a much more realistic take on things, in my opinion.
Despite Tamsin’s apparent lack of magic you shouldn’t think there isn’t any magic in this book. It is being recommended by me. There is time travel, and mystery, and family secrets, and powerful objects, and scary men. It’s almost the witch version of a mafia story. Two waring families, both after hidden objects and willing to do anything to keep them from each other.
I especailly loved Tamsin’s grandmother in this. I don’t want to say too much about it, but I will remind you that there is time travel in this story and I loved how everything came full circle and how the end of the story was the beginning of it as well.Time travel always has the potential to get confusing, quickly. But Carolyn pulls it off in this story with grace and flow.
My one regret is that I have no idea when the sequel will be coming out. I wasn’t even sure until recently that there was going to be a sequel. It was one of those fantastic endings that wrapped up the plot and character arcs perfectly but left open questions so that though you feel totally satisfied, you still crave more.