Not good for maidens by Tori Bovalino

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Louisa doesn't ever get to visit her teenage aunt in England, instead, Aunt Neela visits her in America. With only a year or so separating them in age, they are so close, just like Lou's mother, Laura, is with her sister, May. But one day, Lou misses a call from Neela, a call where Neela says she's at the market. This doesn't mean much to Louisa, but it means everything to her mum and aunt - the market is full of goblins, and her family is full of witches. Laura and May were banished from York over 18 years ago for their actions involving the market, and now that Neela is stuck in the market, Louisa is determined to save Neela, no matter the cost.

This dark horror/fantasy moves between present and past, the story being told from Louisa's perspective (present) as well as May's (in the past). Even with the switching between past and present, the story moves well. A bit of a bildungsroman, both Louisa and May go through great change through the story, resulting in growth and maturing for both characters. Something to note is that repetition is frequent throughout the book - examples include: the market, the market, the market; closer, closer, closer; come buy, come buy. Can be tedious for readers - unsure of what the author was aiming for by constantly repeating. Goblins and magic are the centre of this novel, where goblins glamour themselves to have human appearance, and some humans have magic to protect themselves and heal others who have been injured by goblins. An interesting novel with dark corners and a few twists.

Themes: Horror; Goblins; Witches; Magic; Trickery; Mystery; Coming of Age; LGBTQIA+; Relationships; Family.

Melanie Pages