“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.” (summary from jacket flap)
At first I felt a bit hesitant about whether I was going to like Enchanted Ivy or not. Sometimes fantasy set in the real world doesn’t appeal to me very well, especially if the place is well known. Yet, to my delight Enchanted Ivy sucked me right in. The story is set at Durst’s own alma mater, Princeton. Her love of the school and familiarity with the architecture really shines through in a way that brings the story alive. The setting really does feel magical and mysterious. Her main character is determined, smart, and totally clueless to the fact that she is about to discover an alternate world that will change her life forever.
About half-way through the book I was so hooked into the plot that I could not put it down, as Lily discovers the alternate magical world she also discovers secrets about herself and her family that she never knew before. In particular she discovers the source behind her mother’s mental illness, and learns about her father’s death, and even new talents that she herself possesses. This wonderful discovery story is full of magic, adventure, and little romance. I think I may have become a fan of Durst with this one. I’m going to keep an eye out for her next book.