A review by plumpaperbacks
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

adventurous emotional funny mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


[sixth read, February-March 2024]
I think I’ve well and truly run out of things to say, at least for now. Except, maybe, that I’ll never get tired of watching Sydney and Adrian fall in love. I’ve long since memorized these books, but the same little moments between them still get me every time. 🤍

[fifth read, October 2022]
2016 me really said with her whole self that this book has “a surprisingly cute love triangle.” Girl, what??? There is NOTHING cute about Brayden. That boy has as much personality as a limp, overcooked noodle. And when his competition is Adrian Ivashkov??? He doesn’t stand a CHANCE. 💁🏼💁🏼

Sydney: I want pomegranate gelato.
Brayden: Dessert? Gross. We should have tea instead. Tea is better. No extra calories that way. 🥸
Adrian: Your wish is my command, Sage. I will hand-deliver a carton of gelato to you that I bought myself because I just want to make you happy. 👉🏻👈🏻

I rest my case. And yes, those are nearly exact quotes.

[fourth read, October 2021]
If someone said to me what Adrian said to Sydney, I sure as hell wouldn’t walk away. My girl, we need to have a CHAT.

Also, Sydney and Dimitri being friends is a small detail I didn’t know I needed in my life. I keep forgetting that this is a thing but just… I love it!!

And I absolutely love Dimitri’s reaction to getting a phone call from Rose. 🥺🥺

In conclusion, there is not a single part of this book I don’t love. (Except maybe Brayden, because he’s somehow pretentious and bland AF at the same time.)

[third read, June 2020]
She remembers that he loves cherry slushes and he remembers that she craves pomegranate gelato. They are perfect and I won’t be accepting arguments at this time. I’m stressed enough by their adorable dynamic and her denial of everything good!!!!

[second read, September 2019]
What a ride!

Mead’s writing might be simple and occasionally cheesy, but it’s delightful nonetheless. There’s always a perfect mix of banter and romance amidst the complex chaos of the overall plot. Each novel manages to be even more fun, emotional, and phenomenal than the previous in the series, and The Golden Lily was no different.

In this story, many new elements are introduced: magic is learned, risks are taken, a new enemy is added to the fray. Dimitri and another character that ended up being unexpectedly vital to the final book in the original series return (unfortunately, without Rose), something I enjoyed possibly too much. If asked to choose between Dimitri and Adrian, I legitimately couldn’t; I love both of them wholeheartedly.

While on the topic of romance, I can’t help but wonder why Mead decided to add a character specifically to be Sydney’s love interest. Brayden isn’t a bad guy and, admittedly, is a perfect match to Sydney’s naturally nerdy nature, but he can’t compete with Adrian. No one could possibly compete with their easygoing friendship, laden with romantic tension. And that ending! Though not a cliffhanger, per se, the final pages warmed my heart and then turned off the heat with no warning. (I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I’m going with it.)

Unfortunately, alongside everything Mead did right, there were a few things she did wrong. There were two specific elements, minor though they were, that I had issues with: Sydney’s personal body shaming as she longs for a vampire’s thin figure, despite the fact that she’s already thin, and the casual, inappropriate use of the word “crazy”. The first explains itself, in my opinion. As for the second, Adrian possesses a rare kind of vampiric magic that is known to compromise the user’s mental state, and he makes multiple self-deprecating jokes about it. A similar problem caught my attention in the original series, and to be honest, seeing it again is kind of disappointing.

I think that’s everything? This is the eighth consecutive novel by Mead that I’ve reread, and I’m sure anyone that reads my reviews already knows how thoroughly obsessed I am. No need to repeat that when I could go start the third book!

[first read, October 2016]
I’m grateful that Social Book Co. was able to send me a copy of The Golden Lily, and that it didn’t disappoint. It might’ve been off to a slightly slow start, but it ended up being a thrilling read with unbelievably realistic characters, a surprisingly cute love triangle, and an ending that will leave readers eager for more. I know I’ll be reading the third book as soon as I possibly can.

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