The best books featuring glitteringly lethal societies and darkly beautiful outfits

Who am I?

While supporting myself as I got my MFA, I worked as a bridal stylist at an upscale Beverly Hills wedding salon. Just like most of the main characters in these books, I was thrust into a new world that was full of couture, decadence, and wealth. It was also full of backstabbing, competition, and elitism and I endured my share of it. As a girl from a blue-collar family who grew up with no fashion sense whatsoever, it was an experience that fed my fascination with glittering societies that have dark sides and inspired my first young adult novel, A Dress for the Wicked.   


I wrote...

A Dress for the Wicked

By Autumn Krause,

Book cover of A Dress for the Wicked

What is my book about?

A Dress for the Wicked is about a fashion-obsessed Victorian society. Every few years, there is a cutthroat competition to gain entry to the prestigious Fashion House and, for the first time ever, a girl from the country, Emmy, is admitted as a contestant. Emmy thinks her dreams have come true only to realize that the Fashion House is using her as a political pawn and that sabotage is always in style. Stolen kisses, midnight galas, and backstabbing unfold, and Emmy learns that ambition has a dark side—and that she might too. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Once Upon a Broken Heart

Autumn Krause Why did I love this book?

Once Upon a Broken Heart is a fairy tale with a knife. Here, you’ll discover wily stories that change their endings, a bad boy (…if he is indeed human…) with a deadly smile, and poisons delivered through kisses. 19th-century fashions abound but, just like the plot, these outfits all have unexpected twists. What I love is how this novel is a love letter to both the hopeless romantics and the cynics. 

By Stephanie Garber,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Once Upon a Broken Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Make a wish . . .

'An unputdownable fairy tale' Kerri Maniscalco, New York Times bestselling author of Kingdom of the Wicked

From the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval series, the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in happily ever after. Until she learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, and her dreams are shattered.

Desperate to stop the wedding, and heal her wounded heart, Evangeline…


Book cover of Splinters of Scarlet

Autumn Krause Why did I love this book?

Sometimes a single mansion can contain a world within itself and the one contained here must be explored at your own peril. Intricate passages, decadent décor, and an upstairs/downstairs divide await, along with murder, mystery, and magic. The story centers on a girl who possesses an insidious gift that can save the ones she loves but at a deadly cost. Told against a backdrop full of lavish ballet costumes, this novel left me wondering how far one should go for another, especially when the sacrifice might be fatal.  

By Emily Bain Murphy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Splinters of Scarlet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marit doesn't like to use magic too often; it always comes with a heavy price. When her best friend Eve is adopted by a legendary former dancer and placed in an elite ballet program outside of Copenhagen, Marit draws upon her powers to secure a job with the wealthy family so that she can watch over her. But Marit has another, secret motivation: her father died while working for the dancer's family, and she has reason to believe he was murdered.

While Marit adapts to her glittering new life in Copenhagen, she starts to investigate her father's death in earnest.…


Book cover of The Poison Season

Autumn Krause Why did I love this book?

The forest is hungry and the lake is thirsty and only outsiders can satiate them. Nature is its own intricate, brutal character in this artfully drawn novel about a girl who lives in an insular society protected by a seemingly vicious habitat. Outfits inspired by seasons and folklore enchant the mind’s eye, along with questions about whether the monsters in ourselves are scarier than those found in the forest deep or the lake’s depths. 

By Mara Rutherford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Poison Season as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

"Mara Rutherford’s The Poison Season took me on journey through a bloodthirsty forest, where two star-crossed lovers discover the true meaning of poison. It brims with evocative storytelling that left me enchanted!" — Emily J. Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel Magnifique

Outsiders are always given a choice: the Forest or the lake. Either way, they’re never heard from again.

Leelo has spent her entire life on Endla, coexisting with the bloodthirsty Forest and respecting the poisonous lake that protects her island from outsiders who seek to destroy it. But as much as Leelo cares for her community,…


Book cover of Anna Karenina

Autumn Krause Why did I love this book?

This icon of Russian literature presents an unflinching look at the human heart as it navigates its deepest passions while flung about by the currents of high society. Every aspect is used to its fullest potential, including the fashions which are as ravishing as they are symbolic. The heart is fickle but it has one constant: the need for a good outfit! 

By Leo Tolstoy,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Anna Karenina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1872 the mistress of a neighbouring landowner threw herself under a train at a station near Tolstoy's home. This gave Tolstoy the starting point he needed for composing what many believe to be the greatest novel ever written.

In writing Anna Karenina he moved away from the vast historical sweep of War and Peace to tell, with extraordinary understanding, the story of an aristocratic woman who brings ruin on herself. Anna's tragedy is interwoven with not only the courtship and marriage of Kitty and Levin but also the lives of many other characters. Rich in incident, powerful in characterization,…


Book cover of The Other Boleyn Girl

Autumn Krause Why did I love this book?

Court life under the reign of Henry VIII comes to vivid, excruciating life in this novel following Mary Boleyn, a young girl used by her cunning family to seduce the king. But, as history reveals, such a quest can quickly turn deadly. A sibling rivalry plays out on pages that cannot be turned quickly enough while gowns and jewelry are used to catch the eye of the king and stay on top…and to keep one’s head. 

By Philippa Gregory,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Other Boleyn Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*A stunning brand new unabridged recording*

The acclaimed international bestseller of the Tudor court, during the years of Henry VIII's pursuit of Anne Boleyn - and the revolutionary sequence of events that followed.

1521. Young Mary Boleyn arrives at court, maid in waiting and favourite to Queen Katherine of Aragon.

Yet Mary catches the eye of the capricious king and - propelled by the ambitions of the powerful Boleyn family - she betrays her queen, and takes her place as Henry VIII's new mistress.

But while Mary is in childbed, a rival comes to court - her sister Anne, a…


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Poetic Justice

By Fiona Forsyth,

Book cover of Poetic Justice

Fiona Forsyth Author Of Blood and Shadows

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Rome nerd Teacher Notebook hoarder Thwarted thespian

Fiona's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In the first century, Rome’s celebrated love poet Ovid finds himself in exile, courtesy of an irate Emperor, in the far-flung town of Tomis. Appalled at being banished to a barbarous region at the very edge of the Empire, Ovid soon discovers that he has a far more urgent - and potentially perilous - issue to address. A killer is at large in Tomis.

Somebody is slaughtering animals in a parody of ritual, and the Governor’s advisor Marcus Avitius is under pressure to apprehend the perpetrator. When the killer progresses from animal to human victims, Avitius reluctantly allies himself to the mercurial, tipsy Ovid.

Poetic Justice

By Fiona Forsyth,

What is this book about?

‘Poetic and haunting: Forsyth provides a captivating glimpse into the life of one of Ancient Rome's greatest writers.’ Steven Veerapen, author of the Simon Danforth Mysteries

9 CE.

Rome’s celebrated love poet Ovid finds himself in exile, courtesy of an irate Emperor, in the far-flung town of Tomis.

Appalled at being banished to a barbarous region at the very edge of the Empire, Ovid soon discovers that he has a far more urgent - and potentially perilous - issue to address. A killer is at large in Tomis.

Somebody is slaughtering animals in a parody of ritual, and the Governor’s…


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