The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters (2014)
YA Fiction | Historical | Paranormal
“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.”
pooled ink Review:
He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment.
-Kate Chopin, The Awakening, 1899
This book was quite the adventure back in time. Drawing you right into the year 1900 and the midst of the women’s suffragist movement in the United States the story delivers a tale of rebellion, hope, imprisonment, and even a touch of mysticism.
Following a young woman named Olivia Mead we witness her transformation from shy female and secret suffragist supporter to a self-assured woman willing to fight for gender equality even if it means leaving everything she knows behind. Such an inspiring transition that escalates on her birthday, Halloween, when she first meets a traveling French hypnotist named Henri Reverie. He uses his skills to open her mind’s eye and to see the world the way it truly is and from that moment onward Olivia’s life changes, for better or worse.
Despite our differences in wealth and political opinions, they were no better than me. And…I was no better than them.
I love all of the research put into this book. Not only to bring to life the early-Edwardian era mid-west setting of the story but also with regards to the suffragist movement. Notable women such as Susan B. Anthony, Kate Chopin, and others are quoted, discussed, and admired. The garments, tactics, and songs sung by the suffragists are also embedded throughout the story giving it a sound foundation from which to spring fictitious Olivia Mead. The inclusion of old photos, slogans, quotes, and ads were a perfect touch. They added validity and reality to the story.
Quite a quick read but filled with action, vampires, ghosts, hypnotism, history, politics, friendship, and romance, I found this book quite an enjoyable read. I love the blending of paranormal with history particularly because the balance was just perfect. The spooky atmosphere was not so heavy as to outshine the historical fact or the moral importance of the story but rather it adds a bit of unique fun to the telling. Furthermore the monsters serve much more as a metaphor. Some characters shone with a brilliant light, some grew fangs like pale-fleshed vampires, others grew dimmer and dimmer withering away like a ghost. It’s all in Olivia’s head of course…but what these monsters represent is quite real.
Truly a good read and one that got my own mind curious. I can’t wait to research a bit of the women’s suffragist movement for myself. It’s a subject barely broached in school and far underappreciated by people today, myself included. I hardly know anything about it besides what I learned from Lady Sybil Crawley on Downton Abbey, and hearing the name Susan B. Anthony in my high school U.S. History class. (Also, Olivia’s letter to the editor is quite good. It nearly made me applaud out loud!)
[Bicycling] has done more to emancipate woman than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammeled womanhood.
– Susan B. Anthony, 1896
I must admit the ending leaves me a touch sad even though I had a strong suspicion it might end the way it did. But despite being a bit sad about it I’m actually quite pleased with how Winters chose to end her book. It’s fitting and I absolutely wouldn’t change it. However while it may be the end of this book I know it isn’t the end of the story and in my mind things will line up again in the future, friends and such will be reunited, and all will be well.
A book founded on history and fact, strung together and personalized with a fictional first-person account, and ignited with a touch of the mystic and paranormal, The Cure for Dreaming is an extraordinary journey towards freedom, self-discovery, and passion.
Purchase here: The Cure for Dreaming
Meet Cat Winters!
Winters was born and raised in Southern California, just a short drive down the freeway from Disneyland, which may explain her love of haunted mansions, bygone eras, and fantasylands. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two kids.
Cat Winters is an award-winning author of YA and adult fiction. Her YA works include IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, THE CURE FOR DREAMING, and THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY. Her debut adult novel, THE UNINVITED, released in 2015, and her second book for adults, YESTERNIGHT, is coming October 4, 2016.