Source: From Publisher for Review
Publication Date: 12 Oct 2010
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Place(s) Traveled to: Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey (Click here to see Durst’s Princeton Campus Tour on her blog)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
First Line: “Almost there,” Grandpa said.
When I first learned that Enchanted Ivy was set on a college campus I was was excited as there aren’t very many YA books on the market that deal with college age students. Sadly though the main character, Lily, wasn’t college age but a Junior in high school. Although she is touring the campus as a potential student so there is that aspect that is different from your typical high school YA book. I also really liked the premise, the idea of Gargoyles coming to life and being able to talk. Like Sarah Beth Durst that is something that I’ve wondered about – what would those stone carvings on buildings say if they could talk. Think of the stories they could tell and the knowledge they could impart!
For the most part I enjoyed Enchanted Ivy as the story line was unique and not something I’d seen before….yes yes there are hundreds of stories out there with hidden doors to magical realms. And yes the magical world and mundane do often fall into distrust of each other rather than acceptance and cooperation. But even with elements of things from other fantasy books/stories out there Enchanted Ivy manages to set itself apart. Partly because of the college campus setting and partly because of the search for the Ivy Key – which is a fun little scavenger hunt and I wish it had gone on longer. I liked the idea of Feeders and will think about rustling in the bushes a little differently from now on. And I liked Lily. She was clueless and a little annoying at times but she was always strong. She fought for what she believed in and never backed down. I loved how she was willing to take risks when she didn’t know where the path would lead her. She was courageous and we could all use a little Lily inside us all.
What I didn’t like was that at times the dialogue scenes seemed a bit immaturish and to me seemed geared towards younger teens. The romance also lacked substance and just didn’t really pop off the page for me as I didn’t see any real depth to it. As an adult reading this story Lily’s interactions with Tye and Jake just lacked substance and so I found it hard to believe. Although I think that teens will be more drawn to this aspect of the book than I was. As an adult reading YA I think I tend to be a little more jaded and critical and almost expect there to be some drama involved in getting a couple together….and ok….so fighting for one’s life could be considered drama but those scenes never heightened the romantic tension for me. I never felt that pang in my heart like I do each and every time I read the proposal scenes of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy.
The overall plot of Enchanted Ivy was a little predictable for me as well and I was able to figure things out before the ‘big reveal’ moments to the characters. But again I think that a teen, especially the younger ones, will be more surprised and engaged. I think that Enchanted Ivy would be a great transition book for those middle grade readers who want to move into something more adult but whose parents aren’t quite ready for them read about sex, drugs and rock & roll. Despite having some battle scenes Enchanted Ivy is a very clean novel and while there is death there is no gore. I also liked the message of the book, that of learning to trust in yourself when you might not fully understand all that is going on around you. Being a teen can be hard and adults aren’t always nice. Bad things happen in the world but at the same time there is so much beauty just waiting to be discovered.
As G.K. Chesteron said “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” In the end, Enchanted Ivy is a fairy tale. Its not a story to read to your kindergartner before bed but its one to hand to your pre-teen child to let them know that there is still magical possibility in the world. That their road might not always be paved but that they will be able to forge their own path and make their own destiny.