Title: Enchanted Ivy
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Release Date: October 12, 2010
A story about getting into college. You know, taking the campus tour, talking to the gargoyles, flirting with the were-tigers, riding the dragons…
While visiting the campus of Princeton University, 16-year-old Lily discovers a secret gate to a magical realm and must race against time to save herself, her world, and any hope she has of college admission.
Summary from Goodreads.com
My Review: Before I begin the review I have a little story about how this book came to me. I saw it at ALA when I was there this year and as soon as I read the back cover I knew I wanted to read it! I was so bummed that they only had one copy there because the odds of me getting that one copy were slim to none. One of the lovely ladies working the Simon and Schuster booth told me when they would be breaking everything down, so I could come back and get in line to get a book of my choice. I knew since there was only one copy I would have to get in line super early if I wanted a shot at getting it. So, I came back probably a little more than an hour before the time I was told and there were already 5 people ahead of me! So, I asked each of them which book they wanted (to make sure it wasn’t Enchanted Ivy) and when I was assured it was not, I happily waited. When the time came I walked right up, grabbed the book and proceed away with a very big grin on my face 🙂
Now that I have read the book, I am so happy that I took the time to wait in line for it! This book does not just focus on one type of paranormal creature, it includes almost all of them in one way or another. Which I really liked because it was different than other books that fall into this genre. Lily has dreamed of the day when she will attend Princeton, just like her grandfather did. While going with him for one of his reunions she is introduced to a very elite club, The Vineyard Club. They tell her if she takes a test and passes then she will automatically get into Princeton, but if she fails, the odds of acceptance decrease significantly. Of course she agrees to this because she has dreaming about this for as long as she can remember, even though she has no idea what the test entails.
The test turns out to be almost like a treasure hunt, she is given no clues and no one is supposed to help her during the test. She does get some unexpected help though, from a boy named Tye who claims he is there to guard her. He is very cryptic with the little information he is willing to share, but Lily is enjoying his company none the less. I like him too, he is funny and sarcastic, but you get the impression he is hiding a secret. The mysterious ones are always the most intriguing though, well they are to me at least.
As the test continues, things start to get a little strange, the gargoyles that oversee the comings and goings at Princeton begin to reveal clues to Lily, by talking to her! Lily, being a skeptic, has a hard time figuring out where the mic is kept to get these guys talking, but the further into the journey she goes, the more she starts to question what is real and what is not.
The descriptions of the gargoyles are great, but I also went to look up pictures of them online while I was reading a found a good link of them here in case you want to see what they look like too. The link is just drawings and not pictures, but at least they are all on one page and give your further description of each gargoyle. The way the author, Sarah, describes the campus was amazing and I wondered if maybe she did research or went there to try to get more acquainted with the campus before writing this book. I looked it up on her site and she actually went to Princeton, so I am guessing that is all the research she really needed and I think that helps the story as well. If you go to her blog, here, she is doing a virtual campus tour and you can see pictures of Princeton that give you a great visual while reading. While reading I could tell that the descriptions are coming from a genuine place and it really made the story that much more special. It all sounded so, for lack of a better word, magical, and it makes me want to take a trip up to Princeton just so I can see it all for myself.
Something I found interesting about the plot of this book is that the answer to the test comes rather quickly to Lily, but the answer only opens the door to a whole other world of possibilities. Lily’s whole life and everything she thought was real is being put to the test and she has to choose who and what to believe in. Enchanted Ivy puts a new spin on the fantasy genre because it does not just focus on one creature that you might run across in a fantasy book. There are a number of different species running around and that adds a new dynamic to the story which I loved.
I can see a possibility for a sequel to this book, but you are left satisfied with the ending that Sarah gives you. I also think that there is a possibility for a love triangle to form if their were to be a second book. I of course and firmly with Tye and don’t see my mind being changed in the future, especially with some of the prejudices that seem to linger with the other choice. Either way, I would love to continue on in this world. Sarah Beth Durst has painted a magical picture of a world that is linked to ours, but strives to remain hidden. The mystery will have you searching for clues and wanting to unlock the secrets that Lily has yet to unravel.
FTC: I received this ARC from the publisher