lush and enthralling historical fiction
A DRESS FOR THE WICKED is a lush and enthralling YA historical fiction that feels anything but historical! Emmaline (Emmy) Watkins lives with her mother in Shy, a quiet and poor town, where her mother owns a bar. Emmy has dreams of being a fashion designer, but there is only one Fashion House, and it does not usually take people from Shy.
However, due to a changing political climate, the head of the Fashion House, Madame Jolene, is allowing girls from outside the major city to compete. Emmy is thrilled but nervous, and when she brings her design, she is allowed to enter the competition, but she is to be a token competitor to satisfy the political climate. However, Emmy is ready to prove herself worthy of being chosen to work at the Fashion House in the Fashion House Interview (think a Project Runway style design challenges where no one gets sent home until the end when the top 1 or 2 are chosen to work for the Fashion House).
Once she arrives at the Fashion House, Emmy realizes the competition will be fierce and the politics even fiercer. She is not sure who she can trust, and these choices may be even more important than the garments she designs.
What I loved: The book is absolutely enthralling, and I was completely wrapped up in this world and Emmaline- she is a really engaging and easy to understand main character. The Fashion House Interview was really fascinating, and I loved the Project Runway style competition. With the added intrigue of politics, this book became pretty suspenseful and hard to put down.
What left me wanting more: More world-building would have been interesting, as though this is a historical setting, there is a lot different from what we know. We do get enough to understand the basics though. I also would have liked to get into the minds of the secondary characters more, particularly Sophie, Tristan, and Kitty. They are all really important to the way that Emmy develops in the book, and I would have liked to understand them better. However, as-is, this adds to the intrigue and air of mistrust that propels a lot of the plot.
Final verdict: Overall, this is an enthralling and enchanting story about big dreams, politics, and defying the odds that will have the reader eagerly turning pages. I highly recommend for anyone who loves books with fierce competitions with an underdog main character and/or for fans of THE SELECTION, THE TESTING, and/or THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.