Title: The Golden Lily
Author: Richelle Mead
Length: 418 pages
My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Young Alchemist Sydney Sage is trying to return to something like normalcy at the Palm Springs, California boarding school she attends as a cover for her assignment: protecting fifteen-year-old vampire Jill, the last Dragomir princess and sister of the reigning Moroi queen. With renowned Guardian Dimitri Belikov present, Sydney feels more secure and dabbles in casual dating, self-defense lessons, and even (very reluctantly) in magic. But she soon discovers that in the vampire world, lasting peace is difficult to come by.
It took me a long time to get into The Golden Lily, which concerned me a little since I’d previously devoured everything from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy universe. But then I read the remaining 300 pages in two days. I guess it had just been too long since I read the first book in this, the spin-off Bloodlines series, and my memory was fuzzy, which meant plunging back into Sydney’s life was a little difficult at first.
I reread my review of Bloodlines before I wrote this one, and there, I raved about Sydney’s character. I didn’t feel quite the same way about her in this one. While I still appreciate how principled she (usually) is and the selfless decisions she makes for Adrian’s sake, she didn’t stand out to me the way she did before.
Adrian himself is still a delight, and he actually made me laugh out loud a few times in this book, but I found the rest of the characters lacking as well. Jill is still bland as bland as ever, and even my beloved Dimitri is just sort of…there. There is one cute Dimitri/Rose moment that made me squeal inside, though.
The flat characters are a particular shame because the plot–what plot there is–didn’t hold my interest, either. It seems a bit shoehorned in, like it was an afterthought (“oh right, something actually has to happen”), and though it added a few nice moments of tension and action to the climax, I never felt invested in it.
Since Adrian is by far the best character, the slow-burning romance between him and Sydney (of which she remains almost deliberately ignorant of until the last minute) is the most compelling part of The Golden Lily to me. Her very half-hearted relationship with Brayden (who is boring, unrealistic, and, frankly, sort of an asshole), I could’ve done without, but I suppose it’s a nice contrast to the crackling tension and chemistry she has with Adrian.
As usual, Richelle Mead’s writing pretty average but nonetheless engrossing. I’ve come to expect more from her character- and plot-wise, though. The magic and witchcraft threads she’s introduced are promising, so I hope she steps up her game in The Indigo Spell.