A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers

Posted On 14 December 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review: I absolutely loved this book

AWiT

I’ve had A Witch in Time waiting to be read for a little while, a review book to boot – which makes me feel very bad for not reviewing it much sooner – but this year has been a tad strange for me and you know what they say about the best laid plans?  Anyhow, one of my blogger buddies recently left me a comment basically asking what I was waiting for so I thought – ‘what the heck, I’ll pick this up next’, and I’m pleased to say that this book bewitched me (so, many, many thanks to Tammy for the nudge).  Of course I’d read and loved The Ladies of the Secret Circus so I had an inkling this might work it’s magic and I’m happy to say I was totally gripped.

I’m not going to elaborate on the plot too much here.  The story revolves around a young girl in Belle Epoque France who embarks on a disastrous romance with an artist and is mistakenly cursed by her own mother.  The curse itself involves the two characters being reborn throughout eternity, fated to meet and fall in love over and over again but never to find happiness together.

The winning elements of this story are threefold.  I loved the time periods that the author chooses to bring each different iteration to life in, I really enjoyed the character’s individual stories and I thought the writing was beautiful.

So, firstly, the settings.  We start the story with a modern setting where we meet Helen, a successful journalist, recently divorced and about to embark on a blind date.  Helen plays a main role throughout the course of the story, in fact she starts and concludes the book.  Helen is soon to discover that this is not her first time round, in fact she has three previous ‘versions’ of herself to catch up with – and this is where the fascinating settings come into play.  The youngest version is the young girl called Juliet, muse to artist Marchant.  Living in rural France, Juliet’s future has been mapped out already and it’s not one she likes the idea of.  Ultimately Juliet wants to see Paris and strangely enough her doomed relationship sets off a string of events that will eventually take her there.  I loved this setting, the descriptions of the apartment, the different areas and the way Sayers, almost casually, manages to capture the essence of the place and time.  From there we find ourselves travelling to New York, onwards to Hollywood, over to Los Angeles and New Mexico.  I loved all these settings and was totally caught up with each story.

This brings us to the characters.  Effectively there are three central characters.  The original artist Marchant, Juliet (his muse) and a character known as Luke Varner who is a demon roped into administrating the ‘curse’ (which basically means he helps bring the characters together and facilitates their different lifestyles).  Juliet is reborn a further three times. Nora, an aspiring actress in Hollywood during the 1920/30s. Sandra, a talented musician on the brink of success with her newly formed band and finally Helen who we met at the start.

Each time Juliet is reincarnated it takes time for her to become aware of her former life or lives and so we follow Helen’s story as she gradually becomes familiar with the three previous versions of herself.  Marchant is similarly reborn into each different period and the two are relentlessly drawn together (although he is more an unwitting player in each thread and never reminds his previous roles).  Luke, well, he waits around until he’s needed, never really changing, just ticking along waiting for his next gig. What I really enjoyed about this aspect is that each version of Juliet becomes stronger than the last. she eventually shares all their memories and experiences and with each rebirth learns something new about herself.  Interestingly each character seems to find a way of making their own mark – Juliet is forever immortalised in paint, Nora is a short lived but successful movie star permanently caught on camera, Sandra enjoys a brief moment of ‘almost’ fame when the band she plays with are given the opportunity to make an album which brings us to Helen.  She’s slightly different in that her talents lie more in the magic she is able to wield, the history of which will all be revealed during the read.

What I really admire here is that the author brings to us a very unusual love story which made for great reading.  I would point out though that this isn’t what I would typically define as the ‘romance genre.  What I also hadn’t really thought about until writing this review is that Sayers has included a love triangle.  So, here am I, I don’t like love stories and love triangles are one of my pet hates – and yet I loved this.  I raise my hat to the author and confess myself gobsmacked.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I mentioned above that this is unusual by which I mean it doesn’t follow the traditional course for a love story.  I would also point out that all of Juliet’s reincarnations suffer in some very dark ways and certain aspects will definitely be triggers so think about that before picking this up.  I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone based on those aspects but just wanted to be clear that this is sometimes a spattering of grim rather than a sprinkling of fairy dust.  Also, the actually, ‘witchy’ elements to the story are written with a very light touch.  The magic here is more the rebirths of the characters over and over and the way their stories collide and interlink.  There is a little magic but it’s more the power of suggestion (thank Obi Wan ‘these are not the droids…’ as oppose to broomsticks, wands and ‘hubble bubble’).

Slight criticisms aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  The writing is excellent, I loved the historical elements and the way that so many other aspects tied into each story.  It was compelling, interesting and incredibly entertaining.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

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9 Responses to “A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers”

  1. aquavenatus

    I’ve had the ebook for sometime and I keep putting off reading it. I guess I should move it up my TBR pile!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I was in the same boat and then a blogger buddy gave me a little nudge.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Yes, this was wonderful! You’d think with all the reincarnations that it would get super messy, but it all came together so well!

  3. pagesandtea

    I don’t have a copy of this (yet :D) but I do have The Ladies of the Secret Circus and have been meaning to read it for a while. Will have to add that (and maybe this one as well) to my Backlist challenge TBR list.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, you should, I think you would really like both.
      Lynn 😀

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Oh, I remember seeing this novel reviewed in the past and being intrigued but, sadly, a lot of… bookish water passed under the proverbial bridges and I had completely forgotten about it, so thank you very much for bringing this story to light. It sounds like a very engaging read 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed it and I’m so happy that I was given a little nudge so hope you get a chance to pick it up.
      Lynn 😀

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