A white witch is pursued across time by her nemesis, a sorcerer who may also have been Jack the Ripper.
Stretching her tale over several centuries, British-based Brackston brings energy as well as commercial savvy to her saga of innocence and the dark arts. Young Bess Hawksmith is a teenager in Wessex in 1627 when the Black Death arrives in her village, killing her father, brother and sister. Bess’s survival is a miracle which her mother, Anne, a healer and midwife, won’t discuss, although it involves local man Gideon Masters, to whom Bess turns for protection when Anne is arrested for witchcraft and sentenced to hang. But Gideon is a warlock with plans to initiate Bess and then join forces with her. She evades him but uses his magic to escape her own death sentence, then finds herself condemned to an eternity of making amends, with Gideon in pursuit. As a nurse in Victorian London she encounters Masters in two guises, one of whom Bess suspects of savagely murdering prostitutes in Whitechapel. In 1917, on the battlefields of World War I, Bess tends wounded soldiers and finds a man who loves and understands her, but Gideon intervenes again. A contemporary narrative shows Bess befriended by a teenager who becomes her pupil, assisting at the all-female confrontation with Gideon, a fight of elemental proportions.
History, time travel and fantasy combine in a solidly readable entertainment.