I picked up Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst because the library didn’t have her other book, Ice, that I’d had on my “potential GU stories” list, and as I suspected it turned out to be a GU story of its own.
Lily, 16 years old, has been mostly raised by her grandfather since her mother suffers from a mental condition that Lily is also taking medicine to prevent. The thing she wants most in the world is to attend her grandfather’s alma mater, Princeton University. When he takes her along to his reunion, his fellow alumni surprise her with a special test – if she succeeds in finding something called the “ivy key” she will automatically be accepted when she applies.
Of course, nothing is that easy. She finds the key, with the help of a mysterious and strange boy, but it only brings up more questions. Lily crosses into the otherworld – which has its own Princeton University, populated by magical creatures – because she herself is revealed to be more than she ever imagined. She is in great danger, along with the rest of the world if she cannot stop certain malevolent creatures from gaining access to her world. At the same time, her grandfather is injured and her mother is ailing, and she must go again into the otherworld to find her mother’s true family and hopefully a cure for her malady. Her companions are the mysterious boy, also not entirely human, and another boy set to be her guard – her two companions fight with each other more than they help her at times.
Eventually it is revealed that there is a single adversary, someone she never would have expected. He hands her over to the opposition to be killed, but instead they use her to enter our world and wreak havoc. In the end, she must make a bold and risky move to defeat the adversary and save her family.