The Golden Bough is incredibly well-written from a literary point of view and Sir James Frazer was a Cambridge classicist and a man of the Victorian era with that age’s love of classics and literature. Nevertheless, there are many problems with Frazer’s work, especially in terms of his methodology, or lack thereof, in putting together his materials. It’s not that he “made it up” so much as he didn’t use rigorous methods and also relied on second or third-hand accounts that may have been questionable themselves. Frazer has also been accused of cherry-picking facts gathered from all over the place to prove his theories and also there’s the whole issue with this being written by a Victorian who was somehow tracing the “progress” of societies from a “primitive” state to some kind of “enlightened” and “scientific” modernity. This is understandable given the context and times in which Frazer lived and was writing in, but it does also inevitably lead us – today – to question his conclusions and challenge their evident cultural bias. Finally, a number of Frazer’s assertions about indigenous cultures, specifically in Australia, have been challenged by scholars in those fields as inaccurate or unrepresentative of the cultures in question.
At the end of the day, the book was published in 1890, I think we ought to bear that in mind with all that it might entail.