Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Recommendation: Enchanted Ivy

Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst combines two of my favorite things: fantasy and the collegiate atmosphere.

Lily Carter has always wanted to go to Princeton University. When she visits the campus with her grandfather for his class reunion, she isn't expecting to get the chance for an automatic acceptance to her dream school. But her grandfather has a surprise for her: the super secret Legacy Test. All she has to do is find the Ivy Key and she's guaranteed a spot at Princeton.

With the help of a black-and-orange-haired college boy named Tye, Lily begins her search. But with rabid library bookshelves attacking her and campus gargoyles giving her advice, Lily's thinking the Ivy Key might not be the stuffy “Good Old Boy” tradition she was led to believe. Turns out there are two Princeton Universities—the human one and the magical one—and Lily is caught in power struggle between them. Now she must dig up long-hidden secrets and betrayals if she's to protect both worlds.

I had read several recommendations for Enchanted Ivy before I ever picked it up myself, but though I had a general impression that it was a great book, I could never seem to remember what it was about. Despite that, it ended up on my library list, and I'm very glad it did.

Colleges, particularly the older ones like Princeton, have a magical quality all their own that Sarah Beth Durst taps into in this book. My own grandfather went to Princeton, and I remember visiting the campus with him while I was in high school. Of course, I never got to take a Legacy Test, but I remember a little of the atmosphere of the school, which Durst fully captures.

The fantasy magic fits the setting too. I loved the gargoyles and the creatures of the magical Princeton. The conflict in the story was well-developed and revealed at a perfect pace, with enough hints along the way to keep the reader guessing. Dust does an excellent job creating two worlds that both have flaws and features worth saving.

And the story has a lovely touch of romance as well. All in all I'd say this is an excellent rainy (or snowy!) day book.


  1. Interesting! I heard about this book before and I'm intrigued that being in a college setting it's still considered YA. Seems it breaks the category rules, which is awesome... they need to be broken!
    Sounds like a great story too!

  2. This sounds wonderful, and somehow it hadn't crossed my radar at all! I love old colleges--I totally agree they have their own magic. I'm going to have to track down a copy of this for sure.

  3. I've never heard of this book, but I'm so going to have to go check it out! It sounds fantastic.

  4. It's definitely worth reading! It made me jealous for my own Alma Mater. My school deserves to have a lovely fantasy written about it too!

    I think a lot of books set in college could be considered YA. College students are still "young" adults. And a lot of high school students are looking ahead toward college, so it's totally appropriate for them to read books about college life. Just depends on the subject matter.