Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Enchanted Ivy

Enchanted Ivy

Sarah Beth Durst
For ages 12 to 16
Simon and Schuster, 2011   ISBN: 1416986464

Most sixteen year olds would not want to go to a college reunion with their grandfather, by Lily is thrilled when her grandfather takes Lily and her mother to his forty-ninth reunion at Princeton. Lily hopes to attend the prestigious university herself in a few years, and she is delighted when, at least on the surface, the university looks exactly as she imagined it would.

Then her grandfather introduces her to the “Old Boys” and she finds out that she has been chosen to do a special test, the Legacy Test. Apparently, Lily’s grandfather knew all along that she was going to be asked to do this test. All she has to do to earn a guaranteed place at the university is to find the Ivy Key. Lily is not told what the Key is, only that she must find it before the weekend is over.

Lily isn’t sure how she is supposed to find this Key, but she is not as alone as she thought she would be. A very cute college boy with tiger striped hair seems to want to help her, though he does say things that don’t quite make sense. He tells her he is her “guard.” What could be possibly endanger her on the college campus?

Lily is wandering around the campus looking for a clue when one of many Princeton gargoyles moves and drops a piece of stone into Lily’s hands. Lily, not surprisingly, thinks that she is hallucinating, but she does read the words on the piece of stone, which are “921.45 Wil.” Being a bibliophile, Lily recognizes the numbers to be a book catalogue number and she goes to the library.

What follows are a series of adventures during which Lily comes to learn that there are two Princetons. One is the Princeton in New Jersey, the one she is in. The other is in a parallel world and it is full of remarkable creatures like living gargoyles, dragons, goblins, and dryads. The two worlds are connected by a gate, but only a few people can come and go as they wish. The problem now is that the two Princetons are not living side by side in harmony. Instead both the humans and the magical creatures distrust and hate one another. Somehow someone has to bring about a peaceful resolution to their problems before a war breaks out.

Readers will find it almost impossible not to get swept up by Lily’s extraordinary story. Just when you think you know all there is to know, another surprising piece of information comes to light. Some readers may see a parallel between this tale of love, courage, sacrifice, and betrayal, and stories that exist in our real world today.