Lily Carter’s future is at Princeton University. Her grandfather went to Princeton. Going to Princeton would allow Lily to move away from home without feeling guilt about not taking care of her mother. It’s the perfect school. Most importantly, Lily desperately wants to follow in Grandpa’s footsteps to make him and her mother proud.
Turns out her chance at Princeton might come sooner than she thinks when Lily accompanies her grandfather and mother to Princeton Reunions weekend where, thanks to Grandpa’s connections, Lily has a chance to take the top secret, super exclusive, Legacy Test. Passing the test means claiming what Grandpa calls her destiny. Oh, and it also means automatic acceptance to Princeton.
The only problem is that instead of filling in multiple choice bubbles or writing an essay, Lily has to find the Ivy Key. She has no idea what it looks like or even what it is. She has no idea where to start.
Still, Lily starts on the path to the Ivy Key. A path that leads Lily to talking gargoyles, a mysterious boy with orange and black striped hair, demonic library shelves, and magic. Lots of magic. Because Princeton isn’t a normal school and Lily might not be a normal girl.
If Lily can get to the bottom of Princeton’s secrets, she might also find answers about her mother’s illness and her family’s hazy past, she might even find her own place at Princeton in Enchanted Ivy (2010) by Sarah Beth Durst.
I loved Enchanted Ivy. Truly loved it. It’s a perfect fantasy with an original premise, a great plot and top notch world building. As a girl who once asked for a gargoyle for Christmas* I especially loved the gargoyles in the story which, according to Durst herself, are all really at Princeton–how cool is that?
Gargoyles aside Enchanted Ivy is a strong story with appealing fantasy elements and truly delightful characters on every page. Lily is an authentic and likable heroine at every stage of her journey. To call Tye** a wonderful addition to the story is a vast understatement. Durst’s writing is complex, subtle and a real pleasure to read.
In addition to being a fun fantasy, Enchanted Ivy is a clever spin on the usual college admission woes seen in realistic YA novels. At the same time it has elements of mystery and action. The narrative asks hard questions with wit and aplomb. And there’s a whole section that takes place in a library. Seriously, what more do you want? Go, read this book, right now!
*No, really. I did. Here he is sitting on my signed copy of Enchanted Ivy:
You could say this book is gargoyle approved. Or Miss Print approved. Either would work.
**Tye may or may not be the aforementioned mysterious boy with orange and black striped hair. . . . Okay, I lied, Tye is totally the aforementioned mysterious boy with orange and black striped hair.
Possible Pairings: White Cat by Holly Black, Compulsion by Martina Boone, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel
Exclusive Bonus Content: Another reviewer raised the issue that the Princeton library in the book uses the Dewey Decimal classification system instead of Library of Congress. (The actual Princeton seems to use an amalgam of Library of Congress and classification systems made specifically for the Princeton libraries.) This change did not bother me for several reasons: first it’s a fantasy, second LoC is way hard to navigate, and third I just like Dewey better. It is a superior system. If you don’t think agree at least now you’ve been warned.