Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst has a story line that at first seems only mildly interesting, but once started, the book is difficult to put down. Durst take the "interesting" story line and with her deft prose and runaway imagination creates a tale filled with rich characters, wonderful story-telling, and puzzle pieces that fall together perfectly.
Lily, the protagonist, is a wonderful heroine--not too perfect, not too beautiful, not too athletic--but like Goldilocks, she's just right.
Lily didn't have an easy childhood. Her mother suffers from a mental disorder and takes daily medication. Lily also takes medication as the disorder is inherited. Her dream is to be accepted into Princeton, the university her grandfather and father attended.
The adventure begins when Lily, her mother, and her grandfather visit Princeton for a weekend reunion, and Lily discovers that she is expected to take a test that, if she passes, will guarantee her early acceptance into Princeton. She eagerly accepts, but soon she realizes that the test is far bigger than any test she could have imagined.
Those readers who loved Durst's Into the WIld and Out of the Wild will adore the melding and juxtaposition of the magical and the mundane. Lily discovers that the gates that surround Princeton lead not simply to neighborhood shops, but to an alternate Princeton which exists in an alternate magical reality.
Things are not what they appear to be, which should be no surprise to the experienced reader. Who is ally and who is enemy becomes a big question as Lily and her two friends struggle to make things right between two worlds on the verge of war.
Sarah Beth Durst's writing just gets better and better--and that's not to say that her first books weren't very enjoyable. Her last book, Ice, and this book raise the bar and will present a challenge to the author. She has created extremely high expectations for her future endeavors.
Lovers of fairy tales must visit Sarah's website. Her retelling of obscure fairy tales with a running commentary is side-splitting fun, and there is also a link to her blog.