Review: A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause

“My future was was no longer bound by where I’d come from, but rather, what I would create for myself…”

– Autumn Krause

Release Date: August 6, 2019
ARC received in trade on OwlCrate B/S/T FB Page

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 first “country girl” to compete, Emmy knows she’ll encounter extra hurdles on her way to the top. But as she navigates the twisted world of high fashion she starts to wonder: will she be able to tailor herself to fit into this dark, corrupted race? And at what cost?

Emmaline is from a small rural farming town located in Britannia Secunda, an ex-British Colony where fashion has somehow become the major industry of the country and is a huge part of the government. Emmy dreams of being a designer, but after her moms own failed attempts at a life in the city this dream is highly discouraged. This year however, the exclusive Fashion House Competition is opened to the general public and Emmy has a chance to make her dreams come true.

I wanted to so badly love this book. The premise was new and sounded interesting, a mix of The Selection series and Project Runway all rolled into a fierce competition. I read this book in one sitting because I genuinely loved the main character Emmaline and wanted to see where her journey would take her. I was captivated until the end, but it was then that problems started to arise. There were so many unanswered questions that I assumed this was meant to be a series, but discovered it actually is a standalone novel. Yikes.

The confusion/unanswered questions start right off the bat. We don’t know how this one colony managed to separate or how fashion became so entwined with the government. There is a royal family and Parliament but it was unclear if they ruled the whole British Empire or just the colony and how they came to rule or this system was decided on. This seemed like critical background information since there is government upheaval in the plot from a group called the Reformists Party. This group claims to want inclusivity versus exclusivity which is why the exclusive Fashion House Competition run by Madame Jolene was forced to open up to farming girls like Emmy.

The other girls in the competition were one-dimensional and really faded into the background, forgotten until the end. The only one that stood out to me was Emmaline’s roommate Sophie. She was quirky, always moving furniture about because she hated when things stayed the same and had some real unknown motivations for the competition. I felt like I never knew her though, even with her dark past explanation being thrown in at the end. Sophie also had a past with Emmys’ main love interest which just came across as odd since it was never really explained and did little to add to the watered-down romance.

Fresh off the train in the city, Emmaline meets a cute reporter with apparently most bluest of blue eyes that immediately snag not only her attention but her heart. It was very insta-lovey with long periods of time where the characters don’t even see each other. Throw in an unexplained past with Sophie and the whole thing was just odd. It felt like poor Tristan was just there to move one of the later plot-lines along. There needed to be more of a connection and some more explanations thrown in for the romance to truly flourish.

So while there were some plot holes the book held itself together decently until the end. Unfortunately this is where it truly fell apart for me. The ending felt rushed leaving a lot of things up in the air. We’re unsure of how things will proceed with our characters after we close the book and I wanted that sureness of what would happen next. Instead we are left with a vague quote from Madame Jolene about fashion and movements being cyclical that did little to quell my curiosity or answer my questions. If you don’t look to hard at it or try to explain to your mom what you’re reading, it was a cute story with a strong and hard-working main character. I just felt like Emmy deserved more.

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