Thursday, July 21, 2011

Going Full-Time: Always a Witch by Carolyn McCullough

"As you do know," says Cera, "our power comes from the elements."

"Earth, Air, Water, Fire," I quote.

"Yes, but Blood and Time are also considered elements. Those we rarely touch or call upon. They can be dangerous. They can so easily spiral out of control."

"But the Knights aren't afraid of that."

Her mouth twists downward. "Clearly not."

In the long-awaited sequel to her Once a Witch, Carolyn MacCullough picks up the story of the wizardly Green family without a hitch. Tamsin has settled in with her new-found Talents, like those of the other members of her family, secure that she can repel spells and and freeze anyone, magic or mortal, with a touch to the forehead. Things are going well with boyfriend Gabriel Snowe, and her only annoyances are sister Rowena's pre-wedding jitters and her manipulations to force Tam into an unflattering bridesmaid gown.

But this relative calm ends when the time-travelling Alistair Knight appears and reveals that the Knight family, immobilized by Tamsin's earlier time-travel encounter and control of the Donati talisman, are now scheming to regain their full powers back in the nineteenth century and destroy her own family more than a century before her birth. Tam knows that obliterating their last obstacle to power will mean that she and her modern family will also cease to exist.

Tamsin is determined to Travel back to 1877 to prevent this outcome. Declining Rowena's jproferred help and Gabriel's protection, she goes alone back to nineteenth-century New York City and wangles a maid's job in the Knight mansion, a position which has strangely come open with the mysterious disappearances of a sucession of lady's maids to daughter Jessica Knight. Tamsin, as household domestic Agatha, finds that the job has its ordinary perils from the rude advances of oldest son, Liam Knight. But Tam soon learns that these advances are not merely a matter of master-servant lust, but indeed a blood lust which is both horrifying, and, as she comes to realize, a means to magical powers which will enable Liam and his evil mother La Spider to destroy the nineteenth-century Greens and all of their issue.

Grandmother Green has warned Tamsin that she will soon face a choice, and as the episode with the Knights plays out, Tamsin realizes that her prophecy is indeed true, and that in making this dangerous choice, her life and future will depend upon one member of the Knight family, one who is different from the others, one who is also willing to use the elements of Blood and Time to change the present and the future.

A tightly woven and gripping sequel which is sure to please her fans, Carolyn MacCullough's Always a Witch (Clarion, Houghton Mifflin, 2011) is forthcoming August 1.

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