Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Always a Witch

Always a Witch - Carolyn MacCullough Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.Tamsin Greene once thought she was a Talentless girl in a family of Talented witches and wizards/warlocks/whatevers, but she now knows that she isn't. She has the power to keep others from using their Talents and copy someone's Talent if it is used against her three times. After the dangerous events that hurt her sister and led to Tamsin discovering her powers, all Tamsin wants is to take part in her sister's wedding in peace. Too bad she can't. Alistair Knight, member of the Knight family that rivals the Greenes, has traveled back in time to warn his family against what the Greenes will do to them and using the Domani, Tamsin follows him back in time. Getting a place as a lady's maid in the Knight home, Tamsin must stop their plans and may have to make the greatest choice of her life.I read Once a Witch earlier this year (review here) and loved it for being a fast, entertaining read. I wasn't sure that a sequel could improve on what I liked there, but Always a Witch managed to be even better than its predecessor. Who says that sequels are never as good as the original?The pacing is much tighter and instead of spending much of the book's opening setting everything up and developing suspense the way the first book did, Always a Witch was able to jump right into the action. By chapter three, it was going full speed ahead. The solid plot was handled well, making me wonder at time if everything would work out well or not. I can count at least three occasions where the combination of the wonderful writing and emotional scenes made me start tearing up. It took the third tearjerker scene, the ending, to finally make me cry.Tamsin's family was as delightful as they were in the first book (except for Rowena, of course, but I did like that she cared at least a little bit for her sister), but I wish there had been more pages devoted to Tamsin's interaction with her family. The big secret was finally out that Tamsin had Talents after all, and they were very powerful Talents. How did this affect her interactions with her family? I would like to think that such a huge change would do something to the family dynamics.Tamsin's depth was still being explored and another character I had a soft spot for, Jessica Knight, had her touches of depth too, but pretty much the only character who got any development or depth was Tamsin. In a few ways, Always a Witch reminded me of an action movie. They both move at a frantic pace when at their best and you can't stop watching. To keep that pacing, time that would be spent fleshing characters out is instead spent on action and big scenes. I see many movies where characterization is sacrificed for the sake of plot or time constraints and Always a Witch is pretty much just like that. If it weren't in Tamsin's point of view, she would probably have less development too.And I'm sorry, but while I did find the book suspenseful and interesting and unstoppably readable, the mood never stayed serious for long. Why? Lavinia "La Spider" Knight, the Knight family matriarch. Her name ruined it. La Spider as a villain name is just so... well, it's silly! Each time someone mentioned her name, it made me want to giggle rather than feel fear. Even something as small as a character's name can set or ruin a mood. when you give an intimidating, evil, and scary character like her a name like La Spider, the contradiction hurts the mood.