Cover Image: Not Good for Maidens

Not Good for Maidens

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Member Reviews

I had never heard of the poem 'Goblin Market' before, but wow is it interesting! The atmosphere of this retelling is suffusive throughout the entire book and all of the characters were very compelling.
I love books with dual-timelines, and I thought that this book executed it well! I may be a little biased though because one of the POV characters is named May :)
Family dynamics were woven into the story well, and I especially loved the idea of "Unbelonging" and how it was continuously worked through and used to show Lou's character development.
thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing me an arc.
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I thought with certainty that this would be a 5-star read, but I felt pretty disappointed by this book. I have always been a fan of anything fairytale-related, especially retellings as of recent! I love the Goblin Market story, so I was thrilled to read this, but I found that much of this just felt half-baked. I think honestly that the pacing was a huge issue here: the POV of past and present did not do this story justice and felt like it interrupted the pacing of what was happening in the other POV the entire time--somehow they did not feel like they were on the same wavelength. Beyond that, I just had too many questions that were left unanswered, and the worldbuilding felt like it was thought about in the aftermath when it should have been a foundational aspect of the story.

I truly loved that Bovalino created a dark fairytale featuring queer characters, but the story itself did not deliver what was promised. It barely even felt scary and did not have the high stakes I feel that the story should have given the premise. I will read more Bovalino in the future, but this book didn't work for me.
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This book is a mixed bag, but ultimately an enjoyable read. It is a retelling of the Goblin Market tale. The plot is strong, but the characters are not fully fleshed out. The book is told in dual timelines and points of view, which can be a bit distracting. It also follows a familiar "chosen one" storyline, which some readers may not be fans of. 

However, my biggest annoyance was the way the book suffers from a lack of depth in its characters and a somewhat cliched plot. The characters do not feel fully fleshed out and can feel one-dimensional at times, which makes it difficult to become fully invested in their choices and stories. 

Despite these flaws, 'Not Good For Maidens' is still a good choice for readers who enjoy Retellings, especially Retellings of fairytales and the goblin market. I would be interested in more of the author’s work in the future.
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This book was a fantastically spooky take on "The Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti originally published in 1862. Bovalino excels that creating a grim and intriguing atmosphere that really pulls you in. While the dual-timeline storytelling style was a bit confusing at times, overall it really worked to intervene the different characters and stories going on. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys darker fairytales or just wants a good spooky YA book to settle down with.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Page Street Publishing for the free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Be careful of the Goblin Market, it will entrance you with beauty and awe but it also has sharp teeth. Not Good for Maidens is a richly dark horror fantasy that dives into the old folk tales and stories. The dual storylines allows for rich context about the Goblin Market and allows for depth. The plot is steady and really immerses readers in to the world Bovalino was creating. I would have liked more depth in the characters and growth.
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I think this book is great for 10/11th grade. Perfect reading level and themes. I especially liked the way the broader themes of family responsibility vs personal responsibility and development are explored as journeys through the market.
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The atmosphere and tone of this book is set by the constant hum of the goblin market calling to the humans. I honestly just love a good goblin market retelling and this book delivered me a great story. It started out a bit rough for me, and then ended a bit rough for me. The family dynamics with Lou, her mom, and May--the secrets and how they were handled was overly frustrating for me.
That being said though, once the book got going and the story lines began to cross things got good. May and Eitra had my heart! Appreciated the queer representation and felt it was well-handled.
4/5 stars on this one from me! I really enjoyed this one. Do recommend!
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A good low fantasy read! Very much 'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' vibes. A little drop you in the middle in the beginning which wasn't my fav, but you catch on quick. I like the resolution. Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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This is definitely a fantastic Spooky Season read! YA fantasy with horror elements, and queer representation. Highly recommended. 
Thank you very much to Page Street Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC!
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I loved the idea that this was a retelling of Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market and the audiobook reading was enjoyable, with an engaging and emotive voice, but I could not suspend disbelief and live in the story, which seemed forced at times. A host of goblins and dark creatures have an ancient pact with a band of human witches to dwell in a space between the human and supernatural world called the Goblin Market, where they are free to tempt unknowing people into their traps to be caught, tortured, and eaten. The human witches help rescue and heal people who escape the market. My point of contention is that I didn't understand why the goblins, who seem to number only in the dozens or a few hundred at most, are allowed to continue their violent and cruel hunting, when they are clearly outnumbered by millions of humans in England. It seems like the witches could simply destroy them with modern technology and warpower. The premise lacked plausability in a way that detracted from the enjoyment of the fantastical elements. The author's endeavor to bring this story to the modern world is appreciated but not fully formed.
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Beautiful writing style, great development. I am honestly super excited to read more stories from this author; the narrative is amazing, the reimagination of the Goblin Market tale was extremely creative. And I loved the LGBTQIA+ representation! A powerful fantasy book, with a great creepy atmosphere.
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Tori Bolivano in my opinion is well underrated author.
I loved her first book "The Devil makes three" and this book was excellent too.
Great atmosphere of Britain.
Beautiful story of witchery craft, just what you need for the Fall read.
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I received an ARC of Not Good for Maidens from Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 

I have fond memories of encountering Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” for the first time in college, but it doesn’t seem to have a strong grip on pop culture the way some poems do, so I was eager and excited to discover a book inspired by it. It was with disappointment, then, that I found out that Tori Bovalino’s Not Good for Maidens (what a title!), although it features some striking imagery and carries forward the queer coding and latent sexuality of the original text, struggles to cohere its nebulous worldbuilding and half-baked themes across multiple timelines. 

The contemporary timeline follows Lou, a young woman whose aunt Neela is kidnapped and taken to the goblin market. Lou’s quest to rescue Neela forces her and her family to reckon with their experiences involving the market several decades earlier. The other timeline follows those events from years before, when Lou’s aunt May became involved with a goblin named Eitra. May must confront the trauma she went through in order to help Lou get Neela back. 

The dual timelines are probably the biggest problem with Not Good for Maidens. May is a more interesting character than Lou, and the past timeline is more interesting than the present, but the most frustrating part is that the parallel timelines fail to illuminate one another in any meaningful way—they are hardly more than two similar stories threaded together, and even though they are primed to comment on queer relationships, familial relationships, and intergenerational trauma, they never do so. This book might have been better if it had been a novella about May. Multiple timelines should not be employed without a darn good reason, and there isn’t a good reason here. 

The worldbuilding is an absolute mess. Witches are a part of this story for some reason, but they are shoehorned in without much explanation, and the relationship between the goblin market and the real world never quite locks in. The horror elements of the market are emphasized (this is on the darker side of YA), but the more crucial aspect—temptation—is lost, which strips the themes of resonance and the characters of sympathy. Bovalino’s prose is at its strongest when she leans into the frightening imagery, but it is otherwise sluggish, dense but lacking substance. 

I’ve listed a lot of negatives here, but I don’t think this book is bad so much as a baffling case of unrealized potential that needed more time in the metaphorical oven. A tighter structure might have prevented that potential from being buried under so much padding and so many muddled themes. I hope to someday find an invigorating modern take on “Goblin Market,” but this wasn’t it.
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I enjoyed the creepy atmosphere and the references to the original poem. I feel like teens who like horror and thrillers will definitely pick this up.
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This was a fun ya fantasy/ horror! The Goblin Market was so interesting and I loved every gruesome second of it. 

Lou was a fantastic character! She was brave, smart, and the ultimate hero of this story. I loved how she knew so little about her family and her destiny but no questions asked did what it took to help.

I do wish there was more info on the Witches. That was glossed over a bit but the Goblin Market setting made up for it. All the intricacies of it and the deep, dark, creepiness had me wanting more. 

Overall, a fun and interesting story of Witches, goblins, curses, and family who will do anything!
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This is a YA fantasy continuation of the brilliant "Goblin Market" by Christina Rosetti featuring the sisters from that book, Laura and May, and what happened to them after their interaction with the Goblin men. 

The events of this story take place in Boston, where the sisters moved from England 18 years after the original, and the main focus in the story are Louisa (May's seventeen year old niece) and Louisa's Aunt Neela (Laura & May's half sister, only a year older than Louisa). Louisa and Neela are incredibly close, so when Neela's life is endangered by those tricky Goblin Men, Louisa is determined to get her back. 

This is very fantasy, very gory (which was surprising!) but I did enjoy it. Goblin Market is one of my favourite ever stories, and I think the author did a nice job here staying true to the characters of Laura and May. Louisa was a really good character, it's nice to see some ace representation in a YA book instead of it automatically being about romance. 

The one thing I didn't love was that the "young May" chapters felt like they were set much, much longer ago. I wish they'd been set a generation or two before, and that Louisa had been their Grandniece instead of niece. But that's nitpicking - it's a solid gory YA fantasy that stayed true to the themes of the original story - female sexuality, temptation, female desire, sisterhood, and love.
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I’m not one to go for retellings usually, because I feel the need to check out the source material first. I’ve never read Rosetti’s Goblin Market poem, and while I’m sure it adds to the enjoyment of the novel, it absolutely is not necessary.

I love a horror novel that features fantasy and magic elements, and this was a perfect mix of that. It’s spooky and gruesome, and if you’re looking for a fun sapphic YA horror I’d give this one a try.

Thank you to @netgalley and @pagestreetkids for an ARC of this book.
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I loved this dark retelling of the Goblin Market! The two timelines were easy to keep track of and I loved the LGBTQIA+ rep, especially the ace main character!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC of the book.
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May left the Witchery as the sun sank lower and lower and dyed the sky red. She slipped into the twilight, into the hour that was not good for maidens, as the stars blinked and cluttered the night sky.
This was a trip, goblin market, LGBT star crossed lovers? Yeah that's a great base for a story.
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~3 stars~

Not Good for Maidens is a sapphic YA retelling of Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti...if that doesn't draw you in, I don't know what else will. It certainly worked for me! That being said, there were some things that really worked in this novel and some that didn't. 

The good: the sense of place and general attention to detail in Not Good for Maidens is impeccable. Bovalino managed to capture the too-sweet nature of the goblin market in stunning and sometimes horrifying detail. Truly not for the faint of heart. That being said, I think that one drawback of this book was the young adult rating. The thing that makes the goblin market so tantalizing and so pervasive is the sexuality behind it, that blurred line between pain and pleasure. While the author does a great job maintaining the story for young adult readers, I couldn't help but wonder if the nature of the original work does lend itself more towards adult readers. 

Also good: so impressed by the LGBTQ+ representation in this book and the openness with which the book talked about queer identities. The main character is asexual, and the book also features pansexual and bisexual supporting characters. 

The less good: I really struggled with the dual perspective. I think this was because for the first half of the book, the past narrative was more interesting and in the second half, the present narrative was more compelling. It was lacking in consistent pacing, and thus I found myself much more interested in one half of the story at different points. The dual perspective also inhibited how frequently the main character Lou interacted with her family, making for some really strange family dynamics at times (this was also affected by the fact that I was never really clear on a family tree). 

All this being said, Not Good for Maidens was a fun, fast-paced read. I would recommend it to enjoyers of YA horror, because this is spooky! 

And of course, thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free eARC of Not Good for Maidens. All opinions are my own.
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