I read ONCE A WITCH when it first came out (what seems like forever ago), and was lucky enough to receive this next installment as an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. I shouldn't have waited so long to read it, because it was not hard at all to dive back into Tamsin's story.
The adventures of Tam and Gabriel continue with more time travel, Talents, spy work, and of course, the evil Knights.
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.
In this adventure, Tam basically has to go it alone. Since her Talent allows her to fend off harms, Tam is the only one who can risk an extended stay in the past -- for anyone else, a few days is all they can take before they die. So Tam ditches Gabe (poor boy!) and ventures back to the past to save her family. This is sort of mixed bag because on the one hand I loved that Tam was so courageous and had to work things out on her own. On the other hand, it meant no real development of the love story with Gabe (and I do love a good romance).
Other than missin' some kissin' the book had me thoroughly engrossed. The plot is quick and kept me flipping the pages. To be honest, I didn't remember much about Once a Witch, but I didn't feel lost in this one either, which was awesome. The author gives us enough backstory so that everything makes perfect sense, even if your memory isn't picture perfect. And once I got a splash of the colorful Greene family, I remembered why I enjoyed the electric bunch of witches so much the first time around.
Despite how engrossing the entire novel was, my favorite part was the ending. Not because it all turns out roses (that's not the case), but because of how vulnerably human Tamsin appears. Throughout she's forced to be courageous and strong, but in the end, the consequences of her decision come bearing down on her. I loved that even though she did the right thing, she wasn't completely selfless about it and still had some regrets (that's as much as I can say without giving away spoilers). But I thought that was awesome and made Tamsin even more three-dimensional.
On my Greek coin rating system, I give this one 3 out of 4 coins -- a URA* rating. If you love a good mystery and some powerful magic, you should really enjoy Always a Witch.