Book Review | Not Good For Maidens by Tori Bovalino

Not Good For Maidens by Tori Bovalino is a dark YA fantasy containing body horror and graphic imagery set in the historic town of York. This blood-soaked retelling of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market is laced with tension and had me hooked from the very first chapter.

“Louisa doesn’t believe in magic, until her teenage aunt Neela is kidnapped to the goblin market.
The market, is a place of magic, where twisting streets, succulent fruits, glimmering jewels, and death are on offer to the unwary human. An enticing place that her mother and aunt barely escaped seventeen years ago, paying a terrible price.
With only three days before the market disappears, Lou must navigate the treacherous market, controlled by bloodthirsty goblins who crave vengeance against her family. She must learn the songs and tricks of the goblins to save Neela, or the market might just end up claiming her too.”

Not Good For Maidens is a gruesome tale about generational guilt, sexuality (this book includes both bisexual and ACE representation), and temptation. This twisted fairytale features a dual timeline and POV. I often find this approach to storytelling confusing, however, Bovalino executes it perfectly. The way both timelines are intertwined really adds a whole other level of intrigue and depth to the story.

The bloodthirsty goblins who walk the streets of York have one goal; to enchant and coerce naive humans to lose themselves in the music, wine, and mouthwatering fruit of the market below. Some of these people are found days later; poisoned, maimed, and bloodied. The others are devoured entirely or used as playthings to entertain their devious and sadistic hosts.
As we move between the horrific events that led to Louisa’s family fleeing to America 18 years ago and the present day we learn that Louisa’s teenage Aunt Neela is kidnapped. Both her mother and aunt are forced to reveal their family’s legacy; they are part of a coven of witches who broke a century-long treaty with devasting consequences. Now the goblins are seeking vengeance and it’s up to Louisa to return to the market once more.
Not Good For Maidens is an enchanting, unsettling, tension-riddled read. I could almost smell the rotting fruits and feel the cool wet cobbles under my feet. The world Bovalino has created is surprisingly realistic and incredibly atmospheric.

Not Good For Maidens by Toni Bovalino is available HERE. (Affiliate link)