We all know I love dark, queer books right? We all know that if someone can get fae or fae-adjacent books when they’re done right, don’t we? Well, this book does both of those things oh so well, and, oh my god, I’m so happy I’ve read this book. I’ll be going back and reading Tori Bovalino’s first book after this one as Not Good For Maidens? Such a damn good book. Thanks so much to Sarah at Titan for sending me a copy!
Not Good For Maidens is a retelling of the poem The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. We follow two main characters, Lou in the present and May, 18 years before. Lou has grown up with her Mum and Aunt May in Boston. But when her other Aunt Neela disappears and leaves a strange voicemail, Lou wants to go to York to track her down. Her Mum and May don’t want her there, as before Lou was born, May was trapped in the Goblin Market herself. After being led down there by a beautiful goblin girl.
God, I love books that are both creepy and queer. And this book is definitely queer. Lou is Ace and May is Bi. On top of that, the missing Aunt, Neela, is pan. The queerness is all on-page, and you have discussions of how these girls feel about their sexualities. This book isn’t about them discovering their sexualities, but it’s still very present. I appreciated that, as it’s always good to see a book where queer characters have an adventure without it being about their queerness. If that makes sense. I think we do need books where characters discover their queerness. But we also need books where the protagonists just happen to be openly queer.
A big focus of this book is family. Lou is trying to save her Aunt, May was saved by her sister, and magic is a family legacy. One that Lou never knew about to protect her. There were discussions on how well you know your family, how much of yourself you see in them and what sacrifices you’re willing to make. Good family relationships are something I love to see in books, and this could definitely go on a rec list of family-focused books.
This is a dark-as-heck fantasy book. These goblins are out for blood, bone and whatever else they can eat. This book is vicious, and it doesn’t let you take a break. I adored that. I found myself completely lost in the underworld of this book, and I just want more. There were some genuinely creepy moments, and this really is the perfect book for the spooky season.
If you weren’t already thinking of picking this book up, then I hope my review has convinced you to, as you really won’t regret it.
Title: Not Good For Maidens
Author: Tori Bovalino
Age Range: Young Adult
Release Date: Out Now