Book Review: A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers

Photo by Courtney Ellis

Constance Sayer’s A Witch in Time begins when Helen Lambert accepts a blind date with the mysterious and handsome Luke Varner. Though they’ve never met, he seems to know quite a lot about her, and as the appetizers move into the main course, she discovers that Luke has an odd familiarity about him… There is more to her life than she ever imagined--centuries of time in which she, Luke, and her ex-husband have been locked together by a blood curse. Now she must remember her previous lives, and use what she has learned from each woman to break free from the curse.

This book will have readers hooked from the first page. Helen and Luke’s first interaction oozes with chemistry and intrigue, and promises an adventure of dark magic and history, without slowing down to explain. I was most excited about the way Sayers chose to frame the novel, which makes it unique to anything I’ve read before. With Helen as our anchor in 2012, we are taken back through the lives of her three other incarnations--Juliet in 1895, Norma in 1935, and Sandra in 1970. In a market that seems saturated with witches and demons, I felt this story used them in a fresh and interesting way.

Historical detail is one of the strengths of this book; each time period is steeped in the sounds, colors and flavors of the era in which they’re set. However, I found myself wondering if so much detail, though wonderful, did not add to the main conflict of the story--the curse--and so could almost be considered obsolete, taking away time that might have been spent developing the characters. Though the story revolves around this fantasy element, it never dwells long on the speculative, rather returns to focus on the lives of the women. But because each of Helen’s incarnations had their own character traits and our time with each was so fleeting, I sometimes had a difficult time relating to them.

Though I felt many of the historical chapters were repetitive, as each of Helen’s incarnations were headed towards the same fate, I was satisfied with how the story came together. It was unlike anything I’ve read and was a fun, fast-paced bend of genre. Helen’s incarnations were all different women, but their struggles and artistic sensibilities reminded us they were all one soul, and I thought creativity was a lovely string to bind them through the ages. Readers who seek a time-travelling escape with lush historical detail and a hint of fantasy will be pleased with this read.

I do want to warn readers that there are some difficult topics in this book--underage sex, rape, and physical and verbal abuse. If any of these are upsetting to you, I would skip this one.

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers is available February 11, 2020 from your favorite indie bookstore. Huge thanks to Redhook & Hachette Book Group for providing the beautiful ARC for us to read and review!

Courtney Ellis is co-editor of Timeworn Literary Journal. She is a historical fiction writer, dog lover, and old pub enthusiast. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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