Tuesday, 6 August 2019

REVIEW - A DRESS FOR THE WICKED BY AUTUMN KRAUSE

Title: A Dress For The Wicked
Author: Autumn Krause
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: 6th August 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
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?


PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon UK

REVIEW
The cover is what initially drew my eye to this book. I think the cover really suggest luxury, wealth and being part of the elite. The blurb sets the scene well for the book and the quote that compares it to The Belles is accurate.

The genres I have seen listed are Historical Fiction & YA, and though they fit the book well, I would also add the book has Dystopian elements to it as well.

The book is set in Britannia Secunda, which is separated into districts. The Fashion House is in Avon-upon-kynt in the Quarter District. Which on the surface seems affluent, however there are plenty of poorer people who keep the cogs turning for those rich enough not to do menial jobs such as cleaning, maids, chefs etc.

The main theme within the book is that the owner of the Fashion House, Madame Jolene has been coerced and backed into a corner by the political reformist party and is having to include a “country girl” choice to attend and take part in the Fashion House Interviews. Madame Jolene will pick just six girls in total.

Emmaline/Emmy is from Shy which is a little country place. Her mother owns and runs the local pub. Many years ago, Emmaline’s mother left Shy and went to the City in search of a better life, however something didn’t work out and she ended up returning to Shy alone and pregnant. Emmaline knows nothing about her father, and though she loves her mother dearly she doesn’t want to remain in Shy and help her run the pub that is only just breaking even. Emmaline has big dreams of going to the city and becoming a fashion designer. When she finds out that Madame Jolene is searching for the country girl and last person for the Fashion House Interviews she has to apply.

Emmy ends up being the chosen country girl entrant for the Fashion House Interviews, little does she know she has only been chosen to make up the numbers!
Whilst at the Fashion House she not only has to compete in the challenges but also has to do many interviews and appearances unlike the other girls which causes jealousy when the other girls think she is being promoted more and gaining more support. Yet when you think about it, being the “country girl entrant” means much more work than Emmy ever expected. To attend the interviews and appearances Emmy has to wear an approved set of clothes chosen for her by Madame Jolene which she hates. Emmy desperately wants to leave behind the cutesy country girl image whereas Madame Jolene intends to publicize the fact she has generously allowed a country girl entry to her elite, famous Fashion House Interviews.
Various descriptions place the era of the book to be Victorian, but a perhaps futuristic elite society with Victorian elements, such as etiquette, manner and customs. Each girl has their own story of how and why they obtained their place in the Fashion Interviews. I did like aspects of each girl in different stages in the book. They all have their own distinctive fashion design styles too.

There’s Emmaline who likes to mix work wear elements and fashion together.
Kitty is the first fellow contestant to speak to Emmy is Kitty and she has a classic style of dressing and designing. Rumours are that Kitty’s parents have bought her place at the Fashion House Interview in an attempt to once again rise higher in society.
Sophie is Emmy’s room mate at the Fashion House. Sophie wears a lot of black and her style is dramatic. She is a very straight to the point and at times quite snide and sarcastic person. Sophie wanted to escape her home with guardian Mr Alexander Taylor.
Then there is Ky, whose style is a mixture of Britannia Secunda fashion crossed with Japanese fashion. Both her parents are high flyers in their own rights.
Next is Alice who is very girly in both her personality and design.
The final contestant I have to give a quick introduction to is Cordelia, who wears and designs men’s wear inspired clothes. Each girl has their own individual styles and personalities too. The only one not used to the opulence of the Fashion House and having a maid etc is Emmaline. Which makes you wonder why Tilda, the maid looking after the girls seems to take an instant dislike to Emmy.

I loved Emmaline’s mother Edith, in fact she was my favourite character in the book, despite her having quite a small, yet still important part in the book. I enjoyed the little hints and mystery around the fact she once ran away to the city, but for her things didn’t turn out so great and she returned to Shy in what some would say in disgrace being alone and pregnant. The book left me with lots of questions about Edith. I hope her life and past are covered more in the series to come.
I of course really liked the main characters of Emmaline and Sophie, they are both determined young women that are prepared to put hard work into everything they do either for the rather ungrateful Madame Jolene, or later for themselves. I also must add that I think makes the perfect gentleman to court for Emmaline, and of course this makes him brilliant “book boyfriend” material in the book world.
I do like an unscrupulous character too, which Mr Alexander Taylor, the guardian of Fashion house interview contestant Sophie. He shows he can be violent and ruthless within this book. He is a rather corrupt politician too, not adverse to using strong arm tactics or blackmail to get his way. I don’t think we have heard the last from him!
A perhaps less harmful character is Tilda, though after reading the whole book I did feel sympathetic towards her, maybe she will feature in the next book.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were Wow! I absolutely loved it, adored the characters of Emmaline, Edith, Sophie & Tristan and loved to hate Madame Jolene and Mr Taylor! There's so much more that could happen to Emmaline & Sophie....we also didn't find out who won the apprenticeship with Madame Jolene. Could Tilda become a seamstress? Is there more to be told about the past when Edith was a maid in the city? Who is/was Emmaline's father? I also want to know more about Francesco, could he know Edith from all those years ago when she was in the City! There are so many little loops within this book that could turn it into a superb series! I really hope that this is the start of a potentially amazing series!

It’s not often I compare books to others I have read and share what I think but, this book, wow! It’s a must read book, it may be the must read book of 2019! I would say if you have read and loved any of the following books then this one should be on your want to read list. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton, The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Jewel by Amy Ewing.

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