cover image Birdie of the Wild Rose Inn, 1695

Birdie of the Wild Rose Inn, 1695

Jennifer Armstrong. Starfire, $3.99 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-553-29866-6

This lackluster offering is the first installment of the Wild Rose Inn series, which promises to chronicle the romantic adventures of six generations of young MacKenzie women. The first of these girls is Bridie, 16, who leaves her barren but beloved Scotland to join her parents in Marblehead, Mass., where they have spent 10 years working hard to establish an inn. Since the year is 1695 and Bridie's new home is not far from witchy Salem, it is inevitable that witchcraft becomes the historical element that drives the plot, but it does so in fits and starts. Besides being a devout Catholic, Bridie is an herbal healer; both these traits are looked on with suspicion and dislike by her new Puritan neighbors. Bridie's wooden flirtation with Will of God Handy earns her the hatred of his bitter, witch-fearing mother. Hokey, unconvincing dialogue and paper-thin characters do little to hasten the course of this ponderous story. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)