Title: The Golden Lily
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: June 23, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)
Tough, brainy Alchemist Sydney and doe-eyed vampire princess Jill are still hiding out in Palm Springs at a human boarding school. Their fellow students, spoiled children of the wealthy and powerful elite, carry on in ignorance as Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian do everything they can to keep their secret hidden. That Jill's a vampire princess hidden away to keep her alive. But with some forbidden relationships and dangerous threats, keeping a secret is harder than expected. This time around, Sydney's got even more on her plate, like questioning the motives of the Alchemists, like dealing with a possible new threat to everyone's safety, like maybe figuring out what to do when a guy asks you out.
Second in the series, The Golden Lily doesn't fail to disappoint for loyal fans of both this and the previous Vampire Academy series. Readers will be tossed straight back into Sydney's story, complete with all her issues and neuroses, her uneasiness over her Moroi friends drinking blood, her gradual acceptance that perhaps not all vampires shouldn't be trusted.
What makes reading this series so much is Sydney. She's smart, she's interesting, she's got morals. Apart from the Alchemist knowledge, she's rather plain, there's nothing super about her, she's not fashionable or outgoing, but it's the other aspects of her character that make her enjoyable. It's the multiple internal and external conflicts that she's mixed up in, the fact that the Alchemists want to use her to keep tabs on the vampires, the fact that she's liking Jill and Eddie and Adrian more than the Alchemists, the fact that the Alchemists are keeping secrets from her that might get her killed. It's all about instinct now, which feelings to trust, which people to trust.
The biggest surprise in this new installment is the prospect of Sydney getting a boyfriend. Considering the fact that she's more focused on schoolwork and the job at hand, you know she'll be flustered and ever so confused when she doesn't know how to proceed with a guy that likes her.
The side characters like Jill and Eddie and all the others are so fleshed out and flawed, and such a contrast to Sydney's practicality. It's the vampire's ability to control the elements, to use magic, that's at odds with Sydney's Alchemist nature to only believe in something when she sees it.
This is what I expect from Richelle Mead: interesting and outrageously complicated characters, something insidious hiding in the shadows, conflict upon conflict upon conflict, revenge and betrayal, loyalties stretched to the breaking point, romantic entanglements and love rectangles and polygons. Fan will relish this new story, and also be left clamoring for more.
(I received an advance copy to review from Penguin Canada.)