Review: Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst


Title: Enchanted Ivy

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

ISBN: 978-1416986454


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

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.


Lily Carter only wants one thing – to be accepted into the undergrad program at Princeton.  Her grandfather is a grad, and she wants to follow in his footsteps and make him proud of her.  When a weekend on campus leads to more mystery and danger than she bargained for,  Lily begins to question what’s really important in her life.

I love the premise of this story.  There is another Princeton, a magical Princeton, in a realm of mythical creatures, that resides parallel to ours.  The university gargoyles are from the magic Princeton, but they have been trapped here without a way to return home.  There are other magical creatures lurking in our world, but they are dangerous and have to feed off of the life essence of humans in order to stay alive.  A secret society of knights has organized at Princeton, to protect humans from the Feeders running wild on campus.

Lily slowly discovers the truth about the knights and, more disconcerting, the truth about her family.  Her grandfather hasn’t been honest with her about her father’s death, or about her mother’s slow descent into madness. Throw in two handsome young men, and Lily is in for a rollercoaster of a weekend.  I loved how practical she is.  Despite the unsettling events careening out of control around her, there isn’t much that she can’t handle.  After initially freaking out, she proves how intelligent and clever she is, and with help from her new friends, she manages to work her way through all of the challenges thrown at her. 

I thought the end of the book dragged out a bit too long, and that is the main reason for the grade I gave to Enchanted Ivy.  My attention started to wander when it should have been glued to the frantic events occurring in the story, but I didn’t feel that the suspense was sustained at the end.  The pacing just felt off to me.  Also, as a side note, I think that the book is better suited to MG readers than YA.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

2 thoughts on “Review: Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst

  • November 13, 2010 at 4:02 am

    I’ve had my eye on this for a while, and I am glad your liked it well enough as I think I will try and read it too. I do hate when an ending is slow though, but then I dislike rushed ones too. Great review and with the MG rating it is a good pick for my students.

  • November 13, 2010 at 7:32 am

    @Jan – it’s not that the ending is slow, exactly, it was too strung out to maintain a sense of suspense. And for a group of Princeton grads, the adults could be annoyingly dense at times…

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