Review: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat WintersThe Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet Books on October 14, 2014
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
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four-stars

Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.

Cat Winters’ debut was absolutely amazing and with The Cure for Dreaming it becomes clear that her first book was no fluke. All of the elements that made In the Shadow of Blackbirds so wonderful are present here too, in a highly original story full of feminism. I have little doubt that all of Cat Winters’ novels will make their way into my permanent collection.

Winters strikes this amazing balance between historical and paranormal in her novels. In her first novel, it was ghosts. This time it’s hypnosis, told in such a way as to be imminently believable but also incredibly fantastical. There’s magic emanating from the book’s pages and I was entranced from the moment I began reading. Never have I been particularly interested in hypnosis nor do I technically believe it could do many of the things that occur within the book, but I had no difficulty suspending disbelief. It all just worked and felt so right in context.

The Cure for Dreaming is, at its heart, a novel of feminism. If the book has a weakness, it’s that it perhaps hits the reader over the head with this message. However, I think the message is important and beautiful, so I didn’t mind in the slightest. Winters focuses heavily in her novels on feminism and the role of women, and that’s one of the things I love most in her fiction.

Olivia Mead, our heroine, is not quite sure what to do with herself at the outset. She’s torn between being the girl her father wants her to be and the girl she feels like she is. Olivia dreams of going to college, having a career, and getting to vote, but her father believes staunchly in a woman’s proper place. He was always like that, but became even more set in his opinions after Olivia’s mother left him for her career on the stage. All he wants Olivia to do is take care of him until she marries some other man who doesn’t believe in women having any role outside of housewifery.

When Olivia’s father learns she attended a protest for women’s suffrage, he hits on a solution for controlling his willful daughter: hypnosis. He hires Henri Reverie, a traveling hypnotist, to perform hypnosis upon her, such that she will see the world as it truly is and that all she will be able to say in times of rage is “All is well.” This hypnosis has a different effect than the one Olivia’s father intended; instead of seeing that women are meant to be subservient, she sees all opponents of suffrage and feminism as actual monsters, vampires like those from her favorite novel Dracula. She can now see through people’s pretenses to being kind and no which people she can trust. As I said, the message isn’t subtle.

I love Olivia and it’s so wonderful watching her really learn to be herself. She has a lot of tough choices to make and it’s not easy. Though her father is a mean man, it’s hard to turn her back on the only family she’s ever known. In his way, he does love her, but he can’t give her what she needs: respect. Though I won’t speak to specifics, I also loved the way the romance was handled. It’s not melodramatic and I think it perfectly aligned with what Olivia needed at any given time.

Feminist YA readers won’t want to miss The Cure for Dreaming. The writing is beautiful, the characters compelling and the subject matter no less important today than it was in Olivia Mead’s day.

Favorite Quote:

“My mind isn’t like a rotten tooth. You can’t just take it away.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 Votes for Women Mary Poppins

2 responses to “Review: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters”

  1. Soma Rostam says:

    I am definitely amazed that this novel deals with feminism. I have been reading a lot of its reviews and this never came up. But that is AMAZING and it makes me want to read this book NOW. I just read Grave Mercy and it was AMAZING. it was also a cross between paranormal fantasy and history. It was really good.
    GREAT review deary
    Your reader,
    Soma R.
    Soma Rostam recently posted…ARC Review: Perfect Couple by Jennifer EcholsMy Profile

  2. You stole all the words right out of my head! The feminism element IS very heavy-handed and anvilicious, which made it a little less fun for me personally, but for some readers, I guess that anvil is going to need to be dropped HARD. See: all the people who still claim they aren’t feminists because they don’t hate men. Lovely review, Christina!

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