Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Enchanted Ivy" by Sarah Beth Durst

Every college-bound high school student dreams of being accepted into their first-choice college. For Lily Carter, getting into her family's alma mater, Princeton University, is an easier process than she thought it would be. During her grandfather's reunion, she discovers that if she passes the secretive Legacy Test by finding the Ivy Key, she'll not only be enrolled in a secret society on campus, she'll also be guaranteed admission to Princeton. She'll still have to formally submit an application, but it will all be for show. What high school student wouldn't want that guarantee, especially when it's for a prestigious Ivy League school?

As luck would have it, Lily soon discovers that locating the Ivy Key opens the door to a world she would have never dreamed of. Sarah Beth Durst's attention to detail really comes alive as she paints a picture of the beautiful campus architecture in a way that makes readers feel like they're actually able to see Princeton in their mind. She pays particular attention to the gargoyles, which inspired her to write the novel in the first place. The gargoyles are the protectors of the university, hailing from a fantasy world with a different Princeton. There is a gateway between our world and theirs located on campus, and if Lily manages to find the Ivy Key, citizens of each area will be able to travel back and forth.

Aided by both a mysterious student with tiger-striped hair and the grandson of the secret society's leader, Lily finds herself trapped in a love triangle as she embarks on her quest. The novel's romantic tilt isn't as eloquent as the one she painted in last year's Ice (review here), nor does it have the same level of depth, but because of this, a younger audience can discover this book. It's interesting to see the way Durst portrays each love interest. You can tell whom you're supposed to root for as a reader because one of the suitors has more depth than the other, who pales in comparison due to lack of fleshing out, one of the book's weaker elements. Even so, the main love interest is extremely likable and full of interesting quirks.

Another perk when it comes to Enchanted Ivy is the way the chosen typography design gets you in the mood for a good fantasy. Debra Sfetsios-Conover set the book in Brioso Pro, which gives the letters an elegant shape, especially the "s," while still being easy on the eyes. I don't know the name for the font used for the novel/chapter titles, but it's *gorgeous.* It suits the book well. The shimmer sheen on the book jacket (something that can be seen easily by the photograph accompanying this entry) gives the novel a nice finish that makes it eye-catching on the shelf.

While Ice is still my favorite of Durst's four novels, Enchanted Ivy is a fine addition to add to the shelf. It's wish fulfillment at its finest, thrown in with a splash of fantasy, romance, and adventure. It's definitely a good book to curl up with on a rainy day!

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