The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2)
Razorbill (Penguin Books Aus)
Read from my TBR pile
Please note this review may contain general ***SPOILERS*** for the Vampire Academy book and also the first Bloodlines book
Alchemist Sydney Sage helps keep the world of vampires (Moroi and Strigoi and dhampirs) separate from that of humans. Her current assignment is something of an unusual one – Sydney is part of a team protecting the Moroi vampire Princess, Jill Dragomir. Jill’s sister Lissa is the vampire Queen and an attempt on Jill’s life, which would deny Lissa the throne has led the Royals to act, secreting Jill away to Palm Springs California where no one would think to look for her.
Sydney has almost always been a model Alchemist with only several slips. The first was the deal she made with the shady Moroi Abe Mazur. And the second was assisting the rebellious dhampir Rose Hathaway hide out after being charged with murdering the previous Queen. Sydney has been taught that the vampires are unnatural, that there should be no interaction between them and humans. Everything that they do, from drinking blood to practicing magic is just wrong. However time spent with Rose and her fierce warrior boyfriend Dimitri Belikov, Jill Dragomir and Eddie Castile, another dhampir helping protect Jill has Sydney very conflicted. She, Eddie and Jill are posing as a family and Sydney is coming to feel that they really are. She’s becoming friends with them, beginning to understand them and see them in a different way. It goes against everything she has ever been taught.
Sonia Karp and Dimitri Belikov are in town to work with Adrian researching why those who have been turned Strigoi and then reversed cannot be turned again. When someone recognises Sonia from Kentucky, her Strigoi days, everyone is placed on high alert. It is obvious that Sonia’s life is in danger – someone out there believes she is still Strigoi and wants to kill her. Sydney begins to realise that the mysterious vampire hunters, previously seen as a myth or the ramblings of an old man, might actually be real.
Sydney is all out of her comfort zone – for one, she’s embarking on a possible relationship with Brayden, someone who is almost exactly like her but she doesn’t think it feels the way it should. Also Sonia wants to test Sydney’s blood for her studies because she knows that the Strigoi did not want to drink from her. That frightens Sydney, especially combined with the fact that her teacher at school believes her capable of learning magic, something Sydney believes human should never dabble in. Until she finds that she needs it in order to save a life.
The Golden Lily is the second book in the Bloodlines series, revolving around Sydney Sage and her work helping to protect Jill Dragomir. The second book in a series is often the difficult one and I’m afraid that seems to be the case with this one. Bloodlines helped me get used to a slower pace than the Vampire Academy novels and less action as Sydney is a thinker, not a fighter. However this one slows down to basically a crawl and there’s actually very little in the way of plot until the latter part of the book. Although I enjoyed the read, because Mead is a gifted writer who creates interesting characters and a world I always want to know more about, reading this book did throw up some issues for me.
I’m well aware of the “Sydrian” love for the budding/potential relationship of Sydney and Moroi vampire spirit user Adrian Ivashkov – I’ve been well aware of it long before I ever started these books. Having jumped aboard Rose and Dimitri so swiftly, I did expect the same thing to happen here and it really hasn’t yet. Adrian is supposedly grieving over the betrayal and heartbreak dealt to him by Rose when she instead returned to Dimitri after he was turned back to a dhampir and he was aiding her whilst she was on the run from the murder charge. Adrian is depressed, drinking quite a lot and generally swinging between moping and teasing. Sydney has difficulty dealing with him and his character at first but…things change. Rapidly. Too rapidly, to be honest.
The Sydrian stuff in this book feels a little forced, like it’s being worked really hard. It’s only been three months since Rose chose Dimitri but Adrian’s grief seems to be abating already – it’s kind of like Rose never was. Which in some ways is sort of fair as I don’t believe they would ever have worked but the thing was, he claims to have loved her (although in this book he says “I wanted her” which is very different). Now he seems to have latched on to Sydney but…why? Where did this come from? Why is it there? Sydney is awkward and really not very adept in social situations and Adrian is the playboy who doesn’t bother to try. Sydney sees him differently but I think this could’ve been explored a little better. Much of this book’s large page count is wasted on stuff that is later mostly irrelevant. Sydney’s “relationship” with Brayden is amusing for several dates but really ends up dragging out longer than it should have. Their interactions still have a bit of a weird feel to them.
It sounds a bit like I’m trashing that one, but it’s not really the case. It’s still quite a solid book but perhaps just a bit below what I’ve come to expect from this author and this series and its predecessor. I think the strengths were Sydney questioning the two sides of her character – the dedicated alchemist who has always been raised to do things a certain way and the girl who is spending time with vampires and dhampirs and coming to really care about them. These two things conflict inside her, make her question everything about herself and what she has been taught and to wonder which way she really lies. Sydney is a character who is undergoing a lot of personal growth and that’s at the moment where the strength lies for me. The Adrian stuff is getting there, but I don’t think it’s quite there yet. It has a way to go before I think that it strikes me as utterly believable heart-stopping romance that brings a reader to their knees.
Book #216 of 2013