A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers: Book Review
Updated: Feb 21
From the title, I’m sure you are wondering, “Wouldn’t a book review about a witch fit better in the month of October?” Why yes, yes it would! But something you will learn about me… I love paranormal YA novels! Growing up, I gravitated toward YA novels focused mostly on witches; so I figured why not have the first book review on this page be just that!
I first came across A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers my birthday weekend, when I decided to treat myself to a lovely stroll through Barnes and Noble. I was doing research for my upcoming children's picture book, Princess Gabriella and the Never-Ending Kiss, when I decided I should have a quick gander through the YA section.
Next thing I know, my bank account was $60 deficient but my bag was filled including A Witch in Time; a historical fiction paranormal YA novel published back in February this year.
A Witch in Time follows Helen Lambert, a successful magazine editor, who starts questioning everything about her life after an unusual first date with Luke Varner; a man who claims they have meet before.
After the date, Helen begins vividly dreaming of a young girl named Juliet, her lover Auguste Marchant, and their tragic end back in 1895. Through the dreams, Helen soon realizes she was born, Juliet, cursed to eternally relive her doomed relationship with her artist lover through several lifetimes. Not only as Juliet but as Nora, Sandra and now Helen.
Who is Luke Varner? How is he related to the curse? Helen tries to unravel her past as she searches for a way to end the curse all while encountering powers she never knew she possessed.
I feel The Cons might be inappropriately named for this section. Here are a couple of items I noticed myself hoping would get better as I read but overall they did not ruin the story.
· Helen’s Past Lives
In the story, Helen has lived four lives including her current one. I would have loved to have seen several more lives over time to really cement the curse and how it tragically impacts her life and why the curse is actually a curse. OR had a more detailed tragedy in her last two lives as Sandra and Helen since they seemed less impacted.
· Luke Varner’s Character Development
We find out Luke Varner is, in fact, a lesser demon who helps Helen throughout her four lives. His backstory is brought up in one or two paragraphs making the rest of his story a mystery. I think going into his backstory would have made his character overall more appealing making him a stronger main character.
· The Curse
The curse is poorly explained. Mostly involving Luke and why he is involved in the first place. It sort of seemed like the author herself really didn’t know how to incorporate Luke either; so instead, she just made up something halfway through the story in one small paragraph hoping the plot was good enough that people would just gaze over that part.
The curse states that Marchant and Helen aren’t supposed to have a good life together. In her current life as Helen, her and her soon to be ex-husband (Roger aka Marchant) do, in fact, have several good years together before he decides to leave her for someone else. Even though it ends, they did live happily together at some point which makes the curse mute in my opinion.
· Who are the Villains?
Other than some side characters with poor personality traits I felt there wasn’t really a main villain. Marchant and Luke were pegged to be the villains here and there in the story, but besides some poor decisions, there wasn’t a main reason to hate them thus sinuating their characters two dimensional and indifferent.
· Helen’s Best Friend-Mickey
Mickey is a clique gay who is interested in fashion, talks about men he is interested in, and has witty remarks for everything. He doesn’t even bat an eye at the fact that Helen is cursed and just goes along for the ride. He was unnecessary to the story and his sexual orientation was portrayed poorly.
These are only a few pros from a long list I could have written about this novel. Listed are the top five I believe to be most important.
I LOVE backstories! In this case, each backstory was written well. They seemed historically accurate and you can tell the author put in some work capturing the time period correctly. You also see the struggles women faced during those times as Helen went through several different controversial topics.
Even though the curse is brought up a few times there are only small hints related to magic throughout the story. It was created so the plot wasn't overshadowed by the magic; also mimicking how Helen did not possess it until later in life seen in all four lives.
· Easy to read
I read this book in one sitting. All 440 pages. The linear story from the first life, to the second, and so forth, with a mix of the current life scattered throughout created an easy to follow plot. The main and secondary characters also had enough spotlight to keep the story flowing.
· Secondary Characters
All four of Helen’s lives had great secondary characters. The characters had enough spotlight to keep the story flowing and showed why they were important to her development as a person and/or witch. Everyone seemed necessary to the story except for her friend Mickey.
· No Loose Ends
Even though the story did seem a little rushed towards the end there were no loose ends. The novel is a good stand alone book containing characters with enough development, besides Luke, to create side stories for them.
Overall Review Summary
I really enjoyed A Witch in Time giving the novel 4 out of 5 stars. The cover really captured the essence of a historical fiction novel through the clothing and clock pictured, on the front, along with hints of the paranormal seen with the elegant design around the edges of the book.
The backstories each portrayed the history of that time period along with controversial topics including abortion, suicide, rape, abusive relationships, and sexual orientation to name some.
The main character Helen, along with her other lives Juliet, Nora, and Sandra were strong female individuals with stubborn personalities, a normality seen in most YA novels, but were still somehow refreshing. I have included an image of what I pictured a younger Helen/Juliet/Nora/Sandra looked like while reading.
In the end, an overall good read!
Let me know in the comments below if you have read A Witch in Time! If you are interested in my upcoming children's picture book Princess Gabriella and the Never-Ending Kiss click here to see more updates.