nother wonderful tale of family and magic from Sarah Beth Durst! I don't think it's possible for her to write a book I don't love.
Lily Carter has dreamed of nothing but going to Princeton. On a tour to visit the campus with her alumni grandfather, she learns from his alumni group about the secret Legacy Test she can pass to gain admittance, no questions asked, no scores considered. Her task is to find the Ivy Key. But with little to go on, how will Lily succeed? Maybe with the hope of Tye, a strange orange and black haired boy, who says he's her "guard," Lily will find the Key. The Key is vital to the test because, as she learns from the gargoyles, it opens the two Princetons. There's the regular Princeton, known to humans, and also a secret Princeton, filled with magic. As Lily races to find the Key, and open the two Princetons, she uncovers more than a secret world, but lies and secrets surrounding her family, new friends and their survival.
Enchanted Ivy is Durst's fourth novel, and as I said before, I loved it. My favorite element of Durst's books are the female characters she creates, and once again, Enchanted Ivy delivers. Teen and older readers can instantly relate to Lily, particularly when it comes to worrying over college admissions. Yet Lily has to use more than her book smarts. When Lily is thrust into a magical world, she has to rely on her instinct and heart. That takes a little negotiation of her reality, and as Enchanted Ivy unfolds, we're privy to that experience as well. She's also burdened with the worries over her frail mother, a woman with a small grip on reality, who must be watched over carefully and who tends to have brief "brain hiccups."
With four fantasy-meets-real world books behind her, Durst has perfected her world-building. Like nature was nearly a character in Ice, here Princeton is almost a character itself, treated with such love and depth of detail. No surprise as the author attended Princeton, but it's still a treat to see:
"Her breath caught in her throat. Now this was more like it! Elm trees lined the road to Princeton University. Their branches arched over the car in a grand canopy of translucent green that stretched for half a mile. Leaves swayed lightly in the wind, and Lily wanted to reach her arms up and catch the wind in her hands." pg. 3
The aspects of the alternate "magic" Princeton, with weretigers, unicorns, talking statues, etc, intertwined with the"real" Princeton, and the history of the two makes an intriguing story. Like Ice, the details are flawless, everything easy to picture in the reader's imagination. I'd love if one of Durst's books could be made into a film, if only to see scenes like this in cinematic form:
"Above, three dragons soared through the sky. Jewel-like scales glittered in the sunlight so brightly that it looked as is someone had tossed sapphires, emeralds, and rubies in the air. One of the dragons broke formation and glided down to the field. He skidded along the grass, churning up long furrows of dirt. As he swung his mammoth head toward Lily and Tye, Lily froze. Steam curled out his nostrils as he breathed. His eyes were swirls of liquid gold." p. 117
I only had one small complaint about Enchanted Ivy, and that's because it had the same plot turn every YA book I've read lately has: a love triangle. The characters of Tye and Jake could've been used without the romantic elements, and for the same purpose. When I read "soul mate," describing Tye and Lily, I was a little disappointed. How Tye/Lily/Jake function within the novel was pretty enjoyable for me in the end though.
I love any novel that can hold me in wonder one second and have me giggling the next. Sarcasm always wins me over, as well as wry observations, and Lily delivered:
"Precocious kids had dimples. And wore pigtails and sailor suits and recited Shakespeare in twelve languages by age two...Oh God, what if that was her competition for Princeton admission?" pg. 11
My last comment on Enchanted Ivy has to be: When's the author's next book out?!
Rich in magic, Enchanted Ivy bedazzled me with its charm and wit. It will lose you in a world filled with mysterious boys, weretigers, and family secrets till you reach the final page.