I have always enjoyed the Lucy Stone series, but this one really could have used some more thought and better editing. Lucy seems to have completely lost her spine in this book. She used to be fairly plucky, but in this book, she's a total doormat.
She doesn't want her girls consorting with the local witch, so what does she do? Lets the witch stay with her, and leaves her girls alone under her care! Yes, like that's going to keep them disinterested in witchcraft...Every time someone asks her to do a favor in this book,she knows she shouldn't do it, but she says yes anyway. And the "favor" that puts her in peril at the climax is simply unbelievable--anyone with half a brain would have said no immediately.
There are other problems with the series at this point as well. At one point, Lucy demands of her girls, "Aren't you feminists?" How on earth could they be? We've watched Lucy do her nearly-full-time job AND handle all of the household work, yardwork, gardening, and kowtow to her jerk of a husband as he complains about the dinners she cooks, shows no interest in her work, and treats her with an almost arrogant contempt. (He's so awful that at one point, I thought Meier was setting us up for a Bill-as-abusive-husband-ends-up-dead book). Lucy is hardly a model of feminism, and she forces her daughters into traditional homemaking roles as well, so how could they be feminists?
Editorial mistakes abound. Lucy asks the witch, Diana, if she's leaving town because she's afraid of "Ike Stonington." Hmm. There's a character named Ike Stoughton, but no Stonington. There's some confusion in places about exactly what time of year it is; in one part, Lucy has just told us it's the middle of August, and a few pages later, someone says, "Summer's just started." There are unexplained plot lines, as other reviewers have noticed, the mysterious bear being one of them.
These books used to be written and edited with much more care. This one has a lot of promise, but falls down on several levels. It's OK, but not more than OK.