Thanks to Netgalley, Redhook Books, and Constance Sayers for the opportunity to review A Witch in Time by providing me with an uncorrected proof. 4 stars from me! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Helen has lived many lives… she just doesn’t know it yet. Newly divorced and reeling from the heartbreak of betrayal by her husband Roger, she starts dating. This is how she meets Luke, a stranger who is somehow utterly familiar to her. With his help, she begins piecing together her past lives. See, Helen has been cursed by her mother, of all people, to live out many lives, during which she relives a doomed relationship with Roger. During each of these lives, Luke appears to help her regain her memories and heal from the heartbreak… until her untimely death by age 34. Helen discovers that she began as Juliet, a muse to an artist named Marchant, who was a bit older than her. Her mother accidentally set her curse in motion when she became pregnant by him. Her life continues on as Nora, Sandra, and eventually, to Helen. In each of these lives, she deals with heartbreak at the hands of her lover and only then is shown her curse through the help of Luke, who is tasked with holding her to her punishment for eternity. She discovers a lot about her heritage and the reasoning behind her mother’s actions. Her mother was a minor witch, able to do a little bit of magic-work here and there, and she slowly realizes that she has magic in her veins, as well.
Man, I’ve had some Netgalley misses lately and this one REALLY made up for it. For those looking for an intricate magic system, don’t look here. The magic in this was so subtle and lightly interjected into the plot. For the most part, our characters are seemingly normal people who got where they are by extraordinary circumstances… which just happen to involve magic. I liked that. I wasn’t looking for a fantasy read, when I read this synopsis. I’m not sure WHAT I was expecting, maybe more of a historical fiction? It kind of defies most of the tags you would normally try to tag it as. It has romance and is definitely focused on multiple love stories, but it’s not a steamy, breathless, bodice-ripping novel. It has magic, demons, witches… but it’s not saturated with it. It’s different from most things I’ve read and that really helped me race through this book.
Helen revisits all of her old lives through visions that start coming to her after her heartbreak. This could have gotten really stale if the author made us replay the same story over and over, but thankfully, each life was evolved from the last. Helen and Roger’s past lives were always THEM, but different. Her heartbreak was always different, their lifestyles were always different, the way they reacted to their situation was always different, the way they die is always different, sometimes their sexual orientation was even different. They kept characteristics true to themselves though; he’s always involved with art of some form, she always discovers an affinity for the piano, they both love each other to some degree despite the heartbreak. Throughout all of this, Luke helps Helen through all of her lives. Sometimes he makes things worse. Sometimes he helps her completely work through what Roger has done to her. Sometimes she hates Luke for the things he has done to help her. It was all kept very fresh and thus, was an extremely easy and enjoyable read. With each life we learned more about the backstory of how Juliet’s mother could have possibly cursed her daughter this way. We learn about why Luke is in charge of holding Helen to her curse. Many things that seemed like plot holes in the beginning, tidied themselves up by the end. There were times that the writing of minor characters seemed a bit immature or undeveloped, but not often enough to discourage me from continuing. This never seemed much of an issue with the main characters, either.
There are controversial themes: underage sexual relationships, forced child loss, rape. There are demons, witches, etc. Providing this as a trigger warning to anyone who prefers reads without this type of content.
A Witch in Time will be available in February of 2020 for you to pick up. Well done, Constance Sayers.