Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Source of my copy: author/publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet! Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.
Sarah Beth Durst is fast becoming my go-to author for well-written young adult fantasy. I read her previous novel, Ice, back in March and it immediately became a favorite so I eagerly began Enchanted Ivy with high expectations.
The book opens with Lily, a junior in high school who dreams of attending Princeton University, her grandfather's alma mater. She's driving with her grandfather and her mother for a reunions weekend at Princeton. But once there, she finds out that she has been selected to take the top secret Legacy Test and if she passes it she gets an automatic acceptance to Princeton. Lily readily accepts and begins her search for the Key. Her first clue leads her to the library where bookshelves nearly crushes her to death but that's not the weirdest part. As Lily, continues her search she meets talking gargoyles, goblins, dragons and other creatures only found in fairy tales. Lily soon comes to find that there are two Princetons--the ordinary human one and the magical one that exists in a different realm and can only be accessed by the Key. With the help of two very different boys, she is able to gather more clues that not only reveals where the Key is but also secrets about Lily's own family.
Enchanted Ivy was an amazing, very faced-paced read with themes of family, search for identity and love. I read it all in a day because once I started I couldn't stop. It read like a fantastical Disney movie to me, the imagery the setting and the action evoked clear in my imagination. I really like the author's writing style--the way she told the story was in a simple, yet lyrical prose that I really liked. The author didn't waste words and you get the sense that every word in the book was important in telling the story.
The characters in Enchanted Ivy are fantastic and I especially like Lily. She started out unsure of herself and shy, worrying about her mother who was quickly succumbing to a sort of dementia. But as she delves deeper in the mystery of the magical world, you see her become more confident, strong, brave and a true heroine as the story goes on. However, the romance aspect in this novel didn't really grab me as much as it did in her previous novel, Ice. Tye and Jake, the two boys who guarded Lily in her quest were both nice, likable boys (with Tye having a more "rebel" edge to him) but I didn't particularly root for either one to be the one to "get" Lily and I didn't feel from Lily herself a strong connection to either boy. I wasn't particularly expecting an epic love in this novel like the one between Cassie and Bear in Ice but I kind of wanted... more. I liked the way this novel ended with everything tied up nicely and the ending doesn't scream "series," it's rare to find a non-series book nowadays but I think I'd like a companion book to Enchanted Ivy. I wouldn't mind revisiting Lily's Princeton again.
I began reading this novel with high expectations and I am happy to say almost all of my expectations were met. With excellent world building, great characters and written in a clean, imaginative style I've come to expect from the author--I highly recommend Enchanted Ivy. 4 out of 5 stars