Monday, June 13, 2011

Enchanted Ivy

Lily Carter has always dreamed of going to Princeton University, just like her grandfather and father before her.  So she's excited when her grandfather takes her to visit, along with her mother - and even more excited when it turns out she can take the super secret Legacy test while she's there.  If she passes the test, she's in!  No college application, SAT scores, or essays necessary. 

She does find it a little odd that all her test consists of is the somewhat obscure request that she find the "ivy key."  She has no idea what she's looking for, but she's pretty sure her grandfather wouldn't set up a test that's impossible for her to pass.  Lily sets out on her hunt for the ivy key with optimism and enthusiasm.  But one strange thing happens after another.  First of all, the gargoyles speak to her - and while she's pretty sure that they must be animatronic, they seem so real.  Then a creature that could only exist in nightmares attacks her, and she begins to realize that there are some fascinating, if terrifying secrets lurking beneath the lovely surface of the Princeton University campus.

This was a sweet fantasy tale about a dogged heroine pursuing her dreams.  I liked the fact that the "good" and "bad" sides weren't simply good vs. evil - it was more complicated than that.  I found the explanation of the gargoyles and the otherworldly side to be a little confusing, though - its particularities suited the purposes of the plot but didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.  I enjoyed the depiction of Lily's relationship with her mother, whose precarious mental state has place Lily in the role of caregiver, and I would have preferred a more closer portrayal of her other relationships as the book proceeded.

My twelve-year-old daughter picked this one out of my book pile and read it first, and she enjoyed it immensely, saying it was one of the best books she's read so far this year. 

Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010)

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