Review of The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines, #2)
I really enjoy reading Richelle Mead’s young adult novels. They’re fast-paced, quirky, paranormal, and always deliver a rocketing climax that makes putting her book down in the last quarter almost impossible!
The Golden Lily is book two in her Vampire Academy spin off series called Bloodlines (to read my review of book 1 click here).
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. Alchemists protect vampire secrets – and human lives.
Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California – tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formorly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.
But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age-old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and her sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi – the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that – special, magical, powerful – that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Braydon, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else – someone forbidden to her.
When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.
Should she trust the Alchemists – or her heart?
Sydney Sage is an alchemist in the Vampire Academy series and plays a relatively minor role. In this spin-off series, Sydney is the main protagonist, tasked with protecting Moroi Jill who is under threat from her sister’s enemies (Her sister Lissa is Queen of the Moroi). In Mead’s world alchemists are humans entrusted with keeping the knowledge of vampires a secret from humans; (in the world of VA this means Moroi [good, alive, magic wielding vampires ] and Strigoi [evil, undead vampires who threaten the moroi race and humanity]).
One of Sydney’s key character arcs is to learn to trust her own instincts about Moroi and Dhampirs (the result of a moroi and human mating) over the brainwashing of the alchemists. The Golden Lily shows her growth from book one, where her fear and paranoia made for a lot of laughs but also sympathy as a reader sees how deeply ingrained the alchemists decree of the supposed “evilness” of all vampires goes. This is put to the test when Adrian (a great Moroi character whose banter and sarcasm had me laughing out loud at points) falls for her and she finds herself drawn to him; much more than to her boyfriend Braydon (who, while cute, is super boring).
Most exciting in the series so far was the strange reaction of the Strigoi to Sydney’s blood, hinting that she is perhaps magical? Again, this discovery is a source of fear for Sydney and it will be interesting to see the progression of this plot line. As with her other young adult novels, Mead’s writing style is easy, it flows well, and her use of first person makes you feel close to Sydney (one of the key interests in starting this series for me was to get to know Sydney better).
I’ll definitely continue reading the Bloodlines series!