Book Reviews

Not Good for Maidens by Tori Bovalino: Blog Tour & Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Not Good for Maidens by Tori Bovalino

Expected publication June 14th, 2022 by Page Street Kids.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Salem’s Lot meets The Darkest Part of the Forest in this horror-fantasy retelling of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market.”

Lou never believed in superstitions or magic–until her teenage aunt Neela is kidnapped to the goblin market.

The market is a place Lou has only read about–twisted streets, offerings of sweet fruits and incredible jewels. Everything–from the food and wares, to the goblins themselves–is a haunting temptation for any human who manages to find their way in.

Determined to save Neela, Lou learns songs and spells and tricks that will help her navigate this dangerous world and slip past a goblin’s defenses–but she only has three days to find Neela before the market disappears and her aunt becomes one of them forever.

If she isn’t careful, the market might just end up claiming her too.

Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours and the publisher, Page Street Kids/Publishing, for providing me with an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Not Good for Maidens was a new release I was excited for, but also a little hesitant of. The premise sounded intense, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect going into this one. But I actually think that was the best way to experience it! Not Good for Maidens has a lot of adventure, intrigue, and horror within its pages, and much like Lou herself, it’s impossible to fully know what you’re getting into until you dive in head first.

“Louisa Wickett-Stevens turned on her heel and descended into the darkness, into the depts of the goblin market.”

Not Good for Maidens takes place across two timelines. One set present-day, following Louisa Wickett-Stevens whose world turns upside down when she finds out her teenage aunt Neela has been trapped in the nefarious goblin market her mother had intentionally kept secret from Lou her entire life. The second takes place 18 years earlier and follows Lou’s aunt May, a witch in training, as she begins a dangerous but exhilarating romance with Eitra, a goblin from the market.

Both find themselves venturing into the depths of the goblin market, with all its danger and gore, to save the ones they love. But venturing into the goblin market means there’s a very real risk they might never return…

“She felt Eitra’s nail digging into her skin, like she didn’t know how to love without also hurting.”

Dark and haunting, Bovalino has crafted an intricate world of fantasy and horror. The ominous and treacherous presence of the goblin market looms over every chapter. The barbarity hidden within is even more gruesome than feared.

Bovalino does an excellent job describing the awfulness that is the goblin market. As otherworldly and horrible as it sounded, I could easily visualize it in my mind – even when I didn’t necessarily want to. Despite being magical and fabled, the horrors Lou and May face felt tangible and everpresent.

The only things that didn’t really hit their mark for me were the middle of Lou’s storyline (which felt like it dragged a little until she made her way to York and actually began to learn of the goblin market in earnest – that’s when it got good!) and some of the author’s language choices.

(There was this thing in the narration where an important word or concept would get repeated three times in a row, and it worked at first, but by the end just felt really unnecessary and repetitive. The word “clot” was also used a lot in descriptions, and the first couple of times I thought it was such a creative and unique word choice, but after it kept popping up again and again, it felt a little overdone and lost that initial magic it had for me.)

But overall, Not Good for Maidens was a darkly enthralling read. I especially loved May and Eitra’s romance. Like, if you told me a week ago I would have totally fallen, heartbroken, tears welling over an ill-fated love story between a witch and a thorny, green goblin I wouldn’t have believed you, but here we are! Not Good for Maidens is just that good. 🧟‍♀️⚔️♥️

“She slipped into the twilight, into the hour that was not good for maidens, as the stars blinked and cluttered the night sky.”

About the Author

Tori Bovalino grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and never knew she wanted to live abroad until she was already in London. She’s awful at picking favorites, but her consistent go-to books are Pride and Prejudice, Fire, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. She’s enamored with books that make her cry.

Tori holds a BA in English fiction writing and anthropology and a minor in German from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is currently on the Creative and practice-based PhD course at RHUL, researching the relationship between Russian folklore and YA fantasy novels. In her free time, Tori enjoys reading (duh), embroidering, and traveling.

She is represented by Dr. Uwe Stender and Amelia Appel at TriadaUS Literary Agency. She writes short stories, poetry, and novels.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

~ Check out the rest of the tour schedule here! ~

Have you read Not Good for Maidens?

What did you think of it?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


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