Asexual Representation, Low Fantasy, Sapphic Representation (wlw)

Not Good for Maidens Review + Fav Quotes


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.

Content warnings: on-page gore, on-page body horror, violence, trauma

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My Favorite Quotes

“For just a moment, she could pretend that her own nails were claws, that the lingering taste of blood came from her own mouth. That she was strong and unbreakable and invincible, not weak and fragile and human.”

“I thought I had to define myself in Neela, in you, in May and Dad and Gen and Peter. I didn’t know it was okay to be the person I am. What’s the point of being just one person when you could be half of something bigger?”

“I didn’t say it was pleasant.” She swallowed hard, looking down at the mug in her hands. May wondered if it was still warm. “Our love stories rarely are.”

My Review

Thank you to TBR and Beyond, the publisher, and the author for letting me read an e-ARC of Not Good for Maidens.

Not Good for Maidens is a beautiful story that examines what it means to discover yourself, both separate from and together with your family, and how you can love people that you have never really known. It follows two generations of Wickett women 18 years apart as they feel the call to the Goblin Market and is very much a horror novel, if you don’t care for blood or gore then this is not the book for you. 

The grotesque beauty of the market and its lure are written in such a way that you can understand why people are drawn to it even after seeing and experiencing its horrors. Bovalino’s prose is entrancing and her magic is grounded in historical writings and traditions that make it feel like a goblin could be singing outside your window that night. The relationships between the characters are realistic and complex, the way this family loves each other and chooses each other time and time again was heartwarming to read.

There is representation for many different aspects of the queer community. May is a bisexual woman coming to terms with her sexuality in late ’90s, early 2000s York, England. Lou is ace and Neela is pan, both girls are comfortable in their identities and supportive of each other. It seems to be the queer women that are most drawn to the market, maybe because they are more able to recognize unconventional forms of beauty and attraction. I absolutely loved how Lou’s asexuality works to her benefit when dealing with creatures who use physical pleasure and desire as the basics of their tricks.

When doing some research on the topic I found that some people believe the poem Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti to have antisemitic undertones. While Not Good for Maidens is partially inspired by that poem, I think it manages to avoid the same stereotypes. I am not Jewish so take this with a grain of salt but I was trying to keep an eye out for any major antisemitic stereotypes being used during the interactions with or descriptions of goblins and I personally did not see any. If you don’t know about the history of goblins being used as an antisemitic caricature of Jewish people I recommend you look into it because it is sadly something that continues, especially within the fantasy community, to this day. 

If you are looking for a dangerous, spine-tingling, and queer story about familial love then this is the book for you.

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 Ph.D. 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.

Author Links

Where to Find it

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

You can also get it from but this link is not affiliated with the book tour.


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