Imagine you are a prospective student at Princeton University. As you tour the campus, you find that an exclusive society is going to give you a chance to win instant admission to this college of your dreams. Just one catch. To do so you will have to enter into a world of magic -- of talking gargoyles, were-tigers and vampire monkeys. It could even cost your life.
This is exactly the situation that high school freshman Lily Carter finds herself roped into in the pages of Sarah Beth Durst's latest book, "Enchanted Ivy."
From the moment I open the cover I was entranced by this story. Even though I had a NaNo novel urgently calling to me, my eyes stayed glued to the page until I was deep into the book. It wasn't until I was halfway through that I reluctantly pulled myself away -- and that only succeeded because I bribed my inner reader with the idea of e-mailing Durst and telling her immediately how much I was enjoying the novel.
It was only a few hours later that I finished the book and immediately passed it on to my younger sister.
"Enchanted Ivy" is Durst's most captivating book yet. And although I enjoyed "Ice" and "Into the Wild" (and it's sequel) I can easily say that this latest work is my favorite. Maybe it's the magical world set on an ordinary college campus -- maybe it's the unexpected twists -- or the lovable characters -- but I am absolutely in love with "Enchanted Ivy." And topping my Christmas list is a desire for Durst to announce that she has a sequel in the works, because the setting is rich and absolutely demands further installments.
I would recommend this book for readers 14 and up. It is more suited for a younger audience than "Ice" was -- apart from some bloody encounters with a villain it remains quite appropriate. And as evidenced by my own enjoyment, this is a book to be enjoyed both by the younger ones -- and by those of us who read it with a nostalgic air, wishing our own college experiences might have included such magical adventures.