Book Review: A Witch in Time

Synopsis from Goodreads: A young woman in Belle Epoque France is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist.

In 1895, sixteen-year-old Juliet LaCompte has a passionate, doomed romance with the married Parisian painter Auguste Marchant. When her mother — a witch — botches a curse on Marchant, she unwittingly binds Juliet to the artist through time, damning her to re-live her affair and die tragically young lifetime after lifetime as the star-crossed lovers reincarnate through history.

Luke Varner, the worldly demon tasked with maintaining this badly crafted curse, has been helplessly in love with his charge, in all her reincarnations, since 19th century France. He’s in love with Nora, a silver screen starlet in 1930s Hollywood. He’s in love with Sandra, a struggling musician in 1970s Los Angeles. And he’s in love with Helen, a magazine exec in present-day DC who has the power to “suggest” others do her bidding.

In this life, Helen starts to recall the curse and her tragic previous lives. But this time, she might have the power to break the cycle…

Set across a century (and a bit more), A Witch in Time follows one character who is born into 4 separate lives and doomed to experience the same early death and star-crossed romance in each of them. The story opens in 1895, when 16-year-old Juliet embarks on a love affair with a married painter. Juliet’s mother finds out and tears the lovers apart, at the same time unknowingly cursing her daughter to lifetimes of repeating the same mistakes. Juliet then reappears in current-day Helen, and the stories of 1930s Nora and 1970s Sandra, who are all different women falling in love with the essence of the same artist through time and destined to die tragically. Each of the characters remembers a bit more of their past, including a mysterious protector, Luke, who appears in their lives at just the right time to pull them from a bad situation but who ultimately cannot save them from the curse.

This book was an entertaining read. I saw comparisons to The Time Traveller’s Wife in it, as well as a bit of Addie LaRue, although it didn’t resonante with me as much as Addie did. The author does a great job giving each of the embodiments of Juliet their own story and voice, and sets the stage for the era in which they live in evocative details. It takes a while for the stories to unfold the mystery of how Juliet came to be Nora and Sandra and eventually Helen. I appreciated the way in which the author tied in current-day Helen’s life (and lots of details) with where everything started with Juliet. I also liked the fact that the book ended on a relatively positive note, although it did not promise happiness for Helen, just hinted at it.

I didn’t feel that the “witchy” aspect of the book was completed fleshed out. The original dark magic that sends Juliet into her string of repetitive lives was explained, but her powers as a witch are sort of brought up a few times and then dropped. I felt like the author wasn’t quite sure how to reconcile that aspect of the character. Some of the convenient plot explanations were a little too convenient for me. There actually isn’t a lot of magic in this one unless you are including all of the time-travel/reincarnation aspects, just a few brief sections that appear in Nora and Sandra’s (and a bit in Helen’s) lives.

Overall an enjoyable and fun escapist read – kind of a perfect light summer read for the last book in the 20 Books of Summer Challenge – but not a great piece of literature. 4/5 overall star rating.

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