Tamsin Greene comes from a very Talented family in Once a Witch (2009) by Carolyn MacCullough. You won't find any math geniuses among the Greene family. And no one is exceptionally athletic. But if you ever break anything, be it bones or fine china, Uncle Chester can fix it. Her father can make your grass grow and the sun shine, while her mother can move almost faster than the eye can see. That's because Tamsin comes from a long line of very Talented witches.
When she was born, it was predicted that Tamsin would be one of the most powerful witches ever, a beacon to the entire family. That was until her disastrous eighth birthday, where these lofty predictions were proven wrong. Now seventeen, Tamsin spends as much time as possible away from her family at boarding school in New York City. Summers, however, are spent at home working at her family's magic/book shop feeling like an outcast.
But Tamsin has almost reconciled herself to always been less Talented than her glamorous and infuriating and very Talented older sister. She has even almost come to terms with knowing that she is less than her family expected. Almost . . .
When a dashing professor comes to the store and mistakes her for her older sister, she knows she should set the man straight. Except that for once it's Tamsin who is being looked at with admiration instead of Rowena. And before she can think better of it, Tamsin has agreed to help the man find a family heirloom that has been lost for more than a century.
Following the missing heirloom through time, Tamsin realizes too late that there is more to this stranger and his artifact than meets the eye. As she struggles to complete the search and set things right, Tamsin will unearth secrets about her own lack of Talent as well as long forgotten secrets from her family's past that could change everything.
Once a Witch was basically fantastic. As she did in Drawing the Ocean, MacCullough has created a group of vivid characters who will quickly capture the hearts and imaginations of readers. Tamsin and Gabriel in particular are incredibly well-realized and a joy to read about. The writing is understated and elegant as Tamsin narrates a story filled with action, suspense, romance and, of course, family. Once a Witch is a great addition to the world of urban fantasy and a title that is sure to beguile. It is also hopefully not the last book MacCullough will write featuring Tamsin and her wonderfully Talented family.
You can learn more about the book at its web site http://onceawitch.com/
Possible Pairings: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, A Room with a View by E. M. Forster, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe