From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–Applying to one's dream school is a stressful process, especially if the school is Princeton, as it is for 16-year-old Lily Carter. But Lily's grandfather, an alumnus, has arranged a possible in for her: the Legacy Test. If she can pass the test by finding the Ivy Key, the exclusive Vineyard Club will guarantee her admission. The test turns out to be a means of introducing Lily to the “other” Princeton; a twin university in a parallel world inhabited by magical creatures. Tensions between the two worlds are strained, and the revelation of the Key soon brings the conflict to a head and forces Lily to confront some startling discoveries about herself, her mentally unbalanced mother, and the father who died when she was just a baby. While the story and the depiction of the magical world are fairly basic, Durst clearly enjoys spinning her supernatural ideas out of the architecture and lore of Princeton. Lily deals with the peculiarity of her situation in a believable manner, and her two potential love interests–a loner boy with orange-and-black hair and the handsome grandson of the Vineyard Club president–are charming. Fans of Lesley Livingston's “Wondrous Strange” series (HarperCollins) may find this similar melding of the mundane and the magical appealing.–Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Princeton University—prestigious, elite, and the gateway between parallel worlds. This is the stunning discovery that high-school junior Lily makes when she visits the university on the occasion of her grandfather’s fiftieth class reunion. Lily is desperate to attend Princeton, and when she is given the opportunity to take the über-exclusive Legacy Test for automatic acceptance, she thinks her dreams are about to come true. But taking the test is only part of the story, and once Lily passes, the book really kicks into gear with a monumental battle between good and evil that uncovers secret after secret not just about the university but also about Lily’s family and her unique place between the worlds of humans and monsters. While Lily is a bit slow to accept the evidence, she is a quick-thinking heroine who holds her own against not only monsters but also rival love interests who are at the ready to save her should she fall into distress. Despite the collegiate setting and high-school-age heroine, this will easily appeal to strong middle-school fantasy readers. Grades 7-12. --Kara Dean