Once a Witch

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
Once a Witch Book Poster Image
Mildly bewitching with strong female characters.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Families stick together; girls are smart and strong; it's OK to be different even if you're a witch.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tamsin pretends to be her older sister but gets into trouble doing it. She lies by omission and breaks some family rules while she is trying to save her family from rival witches who are evil. Her grandmother is the head of the family; all the females seem to have more powers and more intelligence.


Some danger, implied violence. Fireballs burn a character's hands, a witch under a spell is compelled to cut herself and fill a cup with blood.


Some kissing; mild flirtation


Mild usage of the words "hell" and "s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Tamsin smokes cigarettes; her roommate drinks alcohol heavily.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know this book is a fairly conventional portrayal of witches -- they fled Europe because of persecution, they observe Samhain and practice ancient rituals under the moon. The teen smoking and drinking is gratuitous, and the romance is gentle. This is a slight fantasy with strong female characters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 and 12-year-old Written bydemusiks June 23, 2010

Fun read for tweens, watch for bad examples

Tween loved the book. Good fantasy book, hoping for a sequel. The D-word was used a few times and there is some drinking and smoking, so there aren't gre... Continue reading
Parent of a 14-year-old Written bywitchluvr October 7, 2009

Perfect Book!

Love this so much. Really shows that portraying somebody else when it is not appropriate is not ok. It is really enjoyable read!
Teen, 13 years old Written bySeniorKnockout(: December 12, 2011

Once a Witch! (:

I have almost finished...but so far it is GREAT!
Kid, 12 years old March 25, 2011

12+ if mature. great read for fun

awsome book it gets a little iffy between tamsin and gabriel. i read it before my mom and she just finished it but we both think it is a great read. to much dru... Continue reading

What's the story?

Tamsin is a 17-year-old witch who has grown up in the shadow of her talented older sister. She believes she has no magical talents at all until a handsome young professor convinces her to try harder to develop her powers. But her attempts put her and her family in danger. With the help of time travel Tamsin's family works together to rescue each other and Tamsin discovers just how powerful a witch she really is.

Is it any good?

Despite gratuitous drinking and smoking, this is an amusing coming-of-age story with some traditional witchcraft thrown in. Stock characters are made more agreeable by the humorous banter between Tamsin and her childhood friend and love interest Gabriel. Tamsin's self-doubts will ring true with teens, especially those with older siblings.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about  whether witches exist (ed) and why they were persecuted? 

  • Should Tamsin's family have hidden the truth from Tamsin?

  • Why did Tamsin pretend to be her older sister?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy reads

Themes & Topics

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