A Dress for the Wicked

A Dress for the Wicked

Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Shy in Avon-upon-Kynt. And for eighteen years, Emmaline Watkins has feared that her future held just that: nothing.But when the head of the most admired fashion house in the country opens her prestigious design competition to girls from outside the stylish capital city, Emmy’s dreams seem closer than they ever have before.As the f...

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Title:A Dress for the Wicked
Author:Autumn Krause
Rating:
Edition Language:English

A Dress for the Wicked Reviews

  • Leilani Mueller

    I read an ARC of A Dress for the Wicked.

    Here is the take of a literature and drama teacher who has a secret, not so-secret penchant for YA novels.

    This book is about hope, beauty, and the complicated longings that come from participating in the creative process: making something popular so it will be seen versus making something niche that might never be seen. As the antagonist Madame Jolene challenges, “Beauty is not for everyone.” Each creative from Madame Jolene, the mother, Kitty, Sophie, Tr

    I read an ARC of A Dress for the Wicked.

    Here is the take of a literature and drama teacher who has a secret, not so-secret penchant for YA novels.

    This book is about hope, beauty, and the complicated longings that come from participating in the creative process: making something popular so it will be seen versus making something niche that might never be seen. As the antagonist Madame Jolene challenges, “Beauty is not for everyone.” Each creative from Madame Jolene, the mother, Kitty, Sophie, Tristian to Emmy struggles with the question: what does it mean to be an artist? What must one do to become an artist?

    The end of art is to be seen. The end of making dress is to wear it. The end of writing a book is to have it read. The effortless commentary on the artist moves this book beyond a typical, fast-paced YA novel, to an insightful commentary on what it feels like to attempt to create and the difficulties that come to those imbued with creative spirits, and it does so while telling a compelling story.

    "

    "

    Emmy the heroine of the book desires to move beyond the drab colors of her country life to rich textures and vibrancy of the city. She is a dreamer, but she is dreamer who works for her dream in the midst of a sumptuous, back-stabbing beautiful world. She meets real people, and makes real choices.

    Pacing and world-building:

    The story drops you into a beautiful world and does not let go. The reader is given the amount of background on Britannia Secunda that reflects Emmy’s knowledge. She is a country girl, and doesn’t know much about the political structure except for what she learns. If we are lucky enough to get a sequel, I imagine a go-getter like Emmy will reveal a lot more about the political tensions latent in the novel.

    5/5

    Friendship:

    If anything, this book is a female power story. Emmy’s journey shows the complicated nature of female friendships.

    5/5

    Love Story:

    I was interested in the critique the love story was an “Instagram” love story, particularly given that the book only spans three months. Tristian and Emmy are infatuated. They have a lot of good moments. Their relationship is believable, because with all the tension happening around Emmy it makes sense that she would choose someone fun to start a romance. It is the beginning of their relationship. We need a sequel to see more fully what Emmy’s dreams mean for her relationship with Tristan.

    Side note: I love that the romance is a sub-plot. It doesn’t get a lot of page time, and that is a nice change, and believable for the beginning of a book.

    5/5

    I teach drama, and as I read the opening, I heard Emmy’s voice, as a voice-over, endearing and brave telling the reader her story.

    This is a delightful book, a real treat. I hope someday to read a sequel.

  • Anatea Oroz

    I have to say, I really liked this book. I kinda expected it to be A Project Runway set in an imagined Victorian era, and it was totally exactly what I imagined. The only thing missing was Heidi & Tim, but oh wait, did we kinda have that?

    I actually breezed through this book. I love watching Project Runway, so now reading about it set in a Victorian-era was really exciting. The storyline alone was very gripping, and it just kept me captive the whole time.

    The only reasons why this book didn'

    I have to say, I really liked this book. I kinda expected it to be A Project Runway set in an imagined Victorian era, and it was totally exactly what I imagined. The only thing missing was Heidi & Tim, but oh wait, did we kinda have that?

    I actually breezed through this book. I love watching Project Runway, so now reading about it set in a Victorian-era was really exciting. The storyline alone was very gripping, and it just kept me captive the whole time.

    The only reasons why this book didn't receive a 5-star review is worldbuilding and romance. I feel like Krause created a really cool imaginary 19th-century world, but we almost don't know anything about it. The only things we know is that Britannia Secunda is in Europe and has received independence from England and Fashion is their main industry. It would have been really interesting knowing more deeply about it.

    I wasn't a big fan of the romance either. Emmy and Tristan make for a nice couple, but with the whole Sophie situation, I would like to have known more about their history. I also sometimes wished that parts of their time together would have gone differently.

    The thing I loved about this book is its characters and character development. We can see progress in almost each and every person, except for Kitty (why? I loved her - question for the author). Emmy started from a scared country girl, and in the end, she was the real boss-girl.

    I wish there was the 2nd book because I would really like to know more about this world and to read about how Emmy manages after everything. I loved the historical setting and the world so it's hard to say goodbye after just one book.

  • Kaya

    I went into this thinking, “okay, this might not be that good” despite the intriguing premise and gorgeous cover. The thing is, you have to go in not expecting much. This is a really good book but don’t expect an intense thrill ride of emotions, or a philosophical dive into dragons and dinosaurs and Doritos (I like alliteration okay). But it is a love letter to all sorts of fashion. As someone who literally wears nothing but jeans, sweaters, hoodies, and t-shirts, it was really fascinating to re

    I went into this thinking, “okay, this might not be that good” despite the intriguing premise and gorgeous cover. The thing is, you have to go in not expecting much. This is a really good book but don’t expect an intense thrill ride of emotions, or a philosophical dive into dragons and dinosaurs and Doritos (I like alliteration okay). But it is a love letter to all sorts of fashion. As someone who literally wears nothing but jeans, sweaters, hoodies, and t-shirts, it was really fascinating to read about all the different pieces and concepts of couture.

    Emmy was a likeable girl. She was passionate, motivated, hardworking*, and best of all, had character development. She had dreams and ideas. Another person I ended up really liking was Sophie. At first, it seemed like she’d just be the classic “mean girl” put there to make the main character have obstacles. But she ended up being a lot more than I originally thought!

    Oh! And the whole “Fashion House” idea reminded me of the houses in The Belles. Except significantly less painful lol. The plot wasn’t anything too deep or even incredibly original but it was so incredibly entertaining. And I loved witnessing the creative process a lot of the characters went through! And the competition. I just really, really, really love competitions. Bonus points for magic! Bonus points for fashion! Bonus points for puzzles! I love basically all competitions in books okay. And this one had interesting characters, fashion, and an interesting interal struggle that I’m not going into because I’d rather you experienced it for yourself. Also the ending has enough closure to leave you feeling perfectly satisfied but also leaves room for a sequel.

    Um…the romance. I didn’t hate it, it just felt too unnecessary for my tastes. There weren’t any sparks, any development, I felt nothing for the entire relationship. But what can you do, it’s YA. And I personally really enjoyed the plot, and wouldn’t change much about it but some people are going to think it’s too predictable, and not super deep. You definitely need to alter your expectations if that’s the case!

  • Eleanor Grace

    3.5⭐

    I really enjoyed this but there we’re definitely some plot and world building flaws. RTC.

    3.5⭐️

    I really enjoyed this but there we’re definitely some plot and world building flaws. RTC.

  • Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]

    This one was hard to rate because it consisted of three main threads, and those got very different reactions from me. Here’s a quick breakdown:

    Romance: 2/5. It was weak, not very well explained, and bordered on insta-love.

    Drama/pace: 4/5. This bit was awesome, and the plot was exciting.

    Characterisation: 4/5. Strong.

    So, all things considered, I’ve given this an aggregate rating of 3.5 stars.

    In the world of Britannia Secunda, an ex-Britis

    This one was hard to rate because it consisted of three main threads, and those got very different reactions from me. Here’s a quick breakdown:

    Romance: 2/5. It was weak, not very well explained, and bordered on insta-love.

    Drama/pace: 4/5. This bit was awesome, and the plot was exciting.

    Characterisation: 4/5. Strong.

    So, all things considered, I’ve given this an aggregate rating of 3.5 stars.

    In the world of Britannia Secunda, an ex-British colony, fashion is the national industry. Illegitimate peasant girl Emmy Watkins is obsessed with it. Normally, her mother – single parent and scrabbling pub owner – tells her not to waste her time. But now for Emmy, and countless other girls, it’s suddenly become a way of social mobility: if they can get become an entrant on the prestigious Fashion House Competition, they’ll come away with money, clothes, and contacts. And for the first time the competition has been opened up to the general public.

    A quick note here on the geography and history of Britannia Secunda. It was actually very poorly explained. Okay, so it’s a colony somewhere in Europe that’s gained independence from the British Empire. How? When? Plus, there are constant references to a royal family. Are these the original British royals? Or has Britannia Secunda given itself a new royal family? Why and how did fashion become the main concern of the entire nation? The background of the setting needed to be explained a lot more than it was.

    Also, something which really bugged me: fall. This is a faux-British country, set in Europe. We don’t say fall! We say autumn! Which happens to be the author’s name! A minor grievance, but come on.

    So anyway, Emmy manages to beg her way into the competition. The esteemed owner of the Fashion House, Madame Jolène, isn’t happy, but there’s nothing she can do – for political reasons she has to look like she’s opening her company up to the lower classes. Madame Jolène was a great villain. She’s not quite sympathetic, because she’s a total bitch, but she isn’t totally vilified; you can kind of see why she resents having her arm twisted, even if her reasons are wrong and deeply elitist. Emmy at any rate is torn between idolising her as a fashion icon and being hurt by her obvious hatred of Emmy herself, a curious but relatable conflict of emotion.

    The other girls in the Fashion House Competition are treated with similar care by Krause. They start out a little bit as caricatures; they’re mean, posh, and Emmy’s rivals. But over the course of the book most of them develop into their own people.There are Emmy’s roommate Sophie, with a tragic family past; Cordelia, who’s into menswear; Kitty, whose parents are desperate for her to advance their social status; half-Japanese Ky; and socialite Alice. As we go through the rounds of the Fashion Competition, with the girls having to design and create masterpieces to be judged, we see how each of them has a background that influences their style. These rounds were well paced, plot-wise, and suitably dramatic.

    Speaking of style, the book’s attitude to dress-making is surprisingly limited. We don’t get many details beyond ‘bodice’ and ‘hooped skirt’, which I find incredible given it’s about an entire luxury fashion company. The colours of materials were however lovingly described.

    You know what lets this whole book down? The romance. Tristan is a down-on-his-luck journalist Emmy meets as soon as she arrives in the capital to begin the competition. First, we get insta-love: they’re drawn to each other almost immediately. Yet they don’t see each other for long stretches of time, rendering the insta-love even weaker and sillier than it already is. Plus, Tristan has a weird relationship with Sophie which is never fully explained, and this lack of clarity made me unable to truly believe in his relationship with Emmy.

    It doesn’t help that the book ends very abruptly and appears to be a standalone. I’m not particularly interested in what happens next to our characters, but their stories aren’t satisfactorily explained in this single book either, so we’re left with a weird little conundrum. I don’t necessarily regret reading it but it certainly hasn’t made much of an impact on me, notwithstanding a brilliant, thinly-veiled insertion of the tragic story of Princess Diana. (Charles and Camilla come off badly here, which I can totally get behind. Dicks).

    -

  • Jennifer

    This book is sort of a combination between The Selection by Kiera Cass and Project Runway.

    This book is divided into three parts. It is YA and sort of a dystopia genre.

    The narrator is Emmaline/Emmy (1st person POV).

    It is a YA book that to me felt way more like dystopia than historical fiction. The book blurb says the story takes place in "a reimagined nineteenth century Europe." But honestly this book did not feel historical to me at all. A bunch of 17-18 year old girls are in a competition at th

    This book is sort of a combination between The Selection by Kiera Cass and Project Runway.

    This book is divided into three parts. It is YA and sort of a dystopia genre.

    The narrator is Emmaline/Emmy (1st person POV).

    It is a YA book that to me felt way more like dystopia than historical fiction. The book blurb says the story takes place in "a reimagined nineteenth century Europe." But honestly this book did not feel historical to me at all. A bunch of 17-18 year old girls are in a competition at the prestigious Fashion House. There is some romance.

    Emmy comes from the country. She is obsessed with design and fashion. For the first time the prestigious design competition is open to one girl from outside the capital city.

    This book was not exactly what I was expecting. I really thought that the competition would be the key focus of the story for the entire book. But each part of the book sort of takes the story in new directions. I'm not sure what I think of this idea. It definitely made the story much less predictable. But I sort of really wanted the story to be completely focused on the competition.

    Overall this was an enjoyable read. I loved the competition aspect of the story. I loved everything to do with the Fashion House and designing. The romance was okay. It could have been developed more. There were some interesting characters like Madame Jolène (who runs the design house) and Sophie (Emmy's roomie). But I just really wanted the focus to be the competition.

    Thanks to edelweiss and HarperTeen for allowing me to read this book.

  • Scarlett

    This is a perfect book for everyone who enjoyed

    series and the world of glittering gowns and jewels. Although, I am not among them and I am not a fashion enthusiast, this was really enjoyable.

    's debut work has a lot of potential, it's been a long time since I read such compelling descriptions that painted the picture so well.

    The story is set in fictional 19th century Europe where the most famous fashion hous

    This is a perfect book for everyone who enjoyed

    series and the world of glittering gowns and jewels. Although, I am not among them and I am not a fashion enthusiast, this was really enjoyable.

    's debut work has a lot of potential, it's been a long time since I read such compelling descriptions that painted the picture so well.

    The story is set in fictional 19th century Europe where the most famous fashion house organizes prestigious design competition. Our girl, Emmy, dreams of becoming a designer, but she is a simple country girl, expected to know nothing about fashion and even less about style. Still, her determination and political pressure that everyone must be included, gets her in the top six. There, the competition starts with the usual backstabbing, gossiping and cat-fighting. The matron of Fashion House, Madame Jolène, makes a good villain, but she never reached the creepy and sadistic level that, I think, author wanted to achieve.

    Since this is a YA book, the love story is inevitable. Still, it didn't work out that well. It was rushed, predictable, obvious and just... nothing exciting. It's not a spoiler to say that Tristan and Emmy are the main couple, it is obvious right from the start. They don't see each other often, but when they do, everything is perfect and they just know they are right for each other. Don't get me wrong, I think that is rare, but possible, it's just that the dialogues they had couldn't be a base for a love story at all.

    Emmy is a decent character. I loved her approach to work, her relentless dedication and opportunism. She is not a perfect heroine, but she is realistic. Although she starts off as innocent and naive, she quickly understands what it takes to be successful in this world. She becomes colder, distant and even more reckless. I respect an author who is not afraid to give us a protagonist that has a little bit of an edge to them. On the other hand, other characters are a bit bland. No one really stood out.

    In many ways, it is a smart intriguing book. Autumn Krause has written a very compelling fashion story about vanity and the aftermath of chasing the success at all price. It's a good idea, but without a perfectly dramatic climax. Everything was so convenient in the end and lined up perfectly. I wish the ending was a bit more complex. I do think that it should have had at least 100 more pages, dedicated to the political background of the society. This would have made the story more serious and exciting at the same time.

  • Tiffany Miss.Fiction

    Thanks Edelweiss+ for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I started A dress for the wicked as a lighter read with not much expectation about it. But I ended up liking it very much. Shocking!

    It’s a story that combines Victorian era, Parisian fashion couture and dystopian setting. Quiet unique and interesting. It reminded me a bit of The Selection but with an engaging story about self fulfilment and making dreams come true through hard work.

    Emmeline (but you should call her Emmy) com

    Thanks Edelweiss+ for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I started A dress for the wicked as a lighter read with not much expectation about it. But I ended up liking it very much. Shocking!

    It’s a story that combines Victorian era, Parisian fashion couture and dystopian setting. Quiet unique and interesting. It reminded me a bit of The Selection but with an engaging story about self fulfilment and making dreams come true through hard work.

    Emmeline (but you should call her Emmy) comes from the countryside, she’s an aspiring fashion designers but in this world and in this land called Britannia Secunda you can be a designer only if you work in the city at the Fashion House, directed by Madame Jolene. But in the background the Reformist party is gaining power and wants to fight it. We don’t understand if it’s for the good or they have malevolent intentions.

    Emmy is selected as one of the apprentice at the fashion house quiet surprisingly, a dream coming true, but she’ll see that all that glitters is not gold at all very soon...

    It was an entertaining read, I was ready for some project-runway like story and that’s all but the message behind Emmy’s work was striking, she’s determined and really loves what she’s doing. She’s ready to take risks and to work tirelessly to fulfill her dreams. I respect that so much.

    The writing is quiet inconstant, sometimes it’s extremely engaging and fun and flawless, while (especially when she gets back to Shy and other scenes) seems totally unedited and it flows less and less.

    That said, the story is engaging and it’s the best part, at least for entertainment.

    Emmy’s quiet a good character, but inconstant. We get to know very little about all the other characters.

    The romantic aspect of the book is tragic, but not in a good way at all. We could have survived without it because it’s the part that really takes Emmy out of character and makes her sound dumb, not just because of the way she acts but because she’s a total jerk towards her friend.

    So, most positive aspects is the entertainment and the light reading experience, the fashion part is quiet technical and not just bitchy so I ended up liking it a lot! Some twists were more successful than others but some of them were so naive....

    The worst to me is the inconsistency of many portions of the book, the love story and it was way to easy to understand at first sight who was working against Emmy (obviously, we all knew that except Emmy)

    Now we are left with a couple of open points that I really have no idea why they were included in the book if there was no intention to explain them (who’s Emmy’s father, the relationship with the Reformist Party, etc..) but we’ll see.

    Still a fun and light read I really liked.

  • Olivia & Lori (The Candid Cover)

    2.5 Stars

    A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause is a book that I had been highly anticipating for its blend of fashion and competition. The premise is intriguing, however this one let me down. The main character is plain, and the plot and world-building feel flat. To me, this book felt very tired, and I was expecting more of a wow factor than was presented.

    This book tells the story of a lower-class girl who gets chosen to participate in an elite fashion competiti

    2.5 Stars

    A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause is a book that I had been highly anticipating for its blend of fashion and competition. The premise is intriguing, however this one let me down. The main character is plain, and the plot and world-building feel flat. To me, this book felt very tired, and I was expecting more of a wow factor than was presented.

    This book tells the story of a lower-class girl who gets chosen to participate in an elite fashion competition. I have seen this recommended for fans of The Selection and Project Runway, and seeing as I adore both of these works, I figured this would be the perfect read for me. The competition aspects in the book are well done, and there is some sabotage which added a layer of mystery. As well, the descriptions of the competitors’ designs are stunning. Those with an interest in fashion might find this one interesting.

    ❀ MAIN CHARACTER ISN’T MEMORABLE

    Emmaline is a good enough character, but I didn’t find her that memorable. She is seen as an underdog and an outcast by the other girls being from a different social class and works twice as hard to prove herself in the competition. Of course, I admired this trait, but that is really all there is to her in my opinion. Her character didn’t annoy me at all, but I wished there was more complexity to her besides being from the country and wanting to win.

    ❀ FLAT AND UNDER DEVELOPED

    My issue with the book is the fact that everything about it is flat and under developed. It is The Selection meets Project Runway, and that’s all there is to it. Lower class girl is selected for a fashion competition amidst a revolution. I feel like I’ve read this story before, maybe without the fashion, and nothing really comes as a surprise. Seeing as there is also a political revolution occurring at the same time as the competition, the book feels very 2014. Speaking of this revolution, I found that the entire world of Britannia Secunda is not clear. All we know is that it is somewhere in Europe and that the politics revolve around fashion. For some reason, the government is in full control of the fashion industry, which is seemingly its only industry, and we don’t really know why. I had a hard time buying this.

    ❀ INTERESTING PREMISE

    A Dress for the Wicked has an interesting premise, but the execution is subpar. I loved the competition aspects, but everything else including the main character and the overall plot are not memorable or all that original. I’m not sure if I would recommend this one as I wasn’t wowed by much.

  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]

    Emmy Watson is determined to be a fashion designer. She's not cut out for a small town life—either as a pub owner like her mother or a wife to a local townsman. She has fashion in her veins. And being accepted as a candidate for the prestigious Fashion House is just the way to go. After arguing her way into a spot, however, Emmy is disappointed to find that the Fashion House is not what she expected—as the sole country-side candidate, she's nothing more than a political appointment, expected to

    Emmy Watson is determined to be a fashion designer. She's not cut out for a small town life—either as a pub owner like her mother or a wife to a local townsman. She has fashion in her veins. And being accepted as a candidate for the prestigious Fashion House is just the way to go. After arguing her way into a spot, however, Emmy is disappointed to find that the Fashion House is not what she expected—as the sole country-side candidate, she's nothing more than a political appointment, expected to attend press junket after press junket without any actual training. But Emmy has dreams and ambition, and she's doing to be a designer.

    I wanted to like this so much more than I did. I feel like this is another one of those

    books.

    It felt a lot like

    meets

    meets

    meets

    , with a group of female contestants vying for a few spots as designers in an elite fashion house, but with a lot of uneven worldbuilding, less charm and a protagonist that had a lot in common with America Singer.

    It started out pretty great, with a historical fantasy-esque setting sometime in the late 1800s in a tiny country called Brittania Secunda whose economy was based solely on textiles and fashion, and whose couture designs drove the European fashion industry. There was discussion about how fashion drove politics, how it shaped the economy and culture, and how it divided the classes between the rich nobility and the poor (I really wanted to learn more of the factories and class division). It was very, very interesting and I wished that the world had been explored and developed a lot more—kind of like

    or

    .

    However, while I

    the fashion aspects (the book really shines when Emmy designs something or creates), I was less than enthused by the main character, the shoehorned love interest, the underdeveloped secondary characters and the haphazard worldbuilding (seriously, the worldbuilding deserved to be fleshed out so much more).

    I think that much of my issues for the book was that it tried to go in a lot of different directions without ever really exploring one thoroughly. Much of the book is spent with Emmy complaining about how unfair her life as a candidate is (I felt that this could have been handled better, honestly, as less "I'm not like the other country girls"/"why is she so mean to me??" and more let's get this shit done), disrespecting Madam Jolène (wtf was up with Emmy's lip? Seriously, the entitlement of this country bumpkin—there's standing up for yourself and then there's downright stupidity), and haring off and about on grand schemes...and also falling in sudden and incomprehensible love with a reporter after three conversations.

    There's some talk about buying appointments to the Fashion House, how deserves to wear couture, the unfairness of a governmentally backed monopoly, fashion cycles, guardianship, women's rights, politics and reformation, etc., etc.—but a lot of these really intriguing bits get dropped faster than Kitty when Emmy decides to go her own route and also pursue her love interest. Seriously, all these really, really, really fascinating things were shoved to the side for a romance plot that was staler than a five-month-old baguette.

    Finally, I was super curious about why there were no male (or trans or nonbinary characters—although there is one girl who wears menswear, which was unexplored) candidates in the group, particularly since one of the prominent designers in the Fashion House was Francesco. Where did he come from? What happened to the other interns who were selected to the Fashion House each year? What did those people do with their time? Who trained any of the current candidates (many of whom were nobility) in customer service, much less couture and sewing/clothing techniques?

    So many questions.

    And instead of answers, we got Tristan.

    I received this ARC from Edelweiss for an honest review.

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