Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading: A Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just Finished Reading: A Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

The Cure for Dreaming
by Cat Winters
To be published by Amulet Books
on October 14, 2014

Source: ARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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. 
My take: Cat Winters' In the Shadow of Blackbirds was a favorite of mine from 2013, and a book that was nominated for the Morris award for debut YA fiction. So I was so very excited when The Cure for Dreaming showed up in the mail.  While I didn't think that The Cure for Dreaming was quite as strong a book as In the Shadow of Blackbirds, I still found it to be a gripping and thought-provoking  story.

While I'd say that  In the Shadow of Blackbirds felt like historical fiction with a strong paranormal bent, I'd call The Cure for Dreaming something more like historical fiction with a touch of magical-realism. When the father of feisty Olivia Mead wants his daughter's feminist leanings stamped out, he calls on Henri Reverie, a handsome young stage mesmerist, to hypnotize her. It works -- she becomes a sort of walking parlor trick. At first she's able to see people's true natures, and then Henri re-hypnotizes her several times in other ways. There was something about the hypnosis that kept bothering me --  it always seemed a little creepy to me that Henri kept probing around in Olivia's mind.

Speaking of probing, the book also features Olivia's father, a sinister local dentist. Since his wife's progressive ideas led her to abandon their family, he's alarmed by Olivia's passion for the suffragist movement. The book also includes a love triangle of sorts that includes Olivia, Henri, and a local boy named Percy. Then, interwoven into that are details about early twentieth-century medicine. The word "mesmerism" comes from the name of an eighteenth-century doctor, Franz Anton Mesmer, who believed medical cures could be effected by tapping into magnetic powers.

But some aspects of the book felt a bit muddled to me. First, I'm not sure that the romance and the mesmerism were a great combination for me. I also didn't always understand what, if any, connections the author was trying to make between politics and mesmerism. Politics is a kind of mass mind control? Also, why was the strong-minded Olivia able to be hypnotized so easily? Not surprisingly, Henri turns out to be not what he seems, but to me, Olivia still seemed susceptible to manipulation to a degree that worried me -- and made the book's romance less than satisfying.

All in all, I did enjoy The Cure for Dreaming. Rich in historical detail, with a spirited heroine and with chapters interspersed with fascinating archival photos and art, this is a book that tackles a lot of interesting ideas.

15 comments:

  1. I agree, I preferred Shadows but this one was beautifully done as well. I'm a sucker for Cat Winters' writing style. I want to read all her words :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmmm the deliberate intrusive violation of Olivia's mind would probably bother me too. Somehow, this is the first review for this book that alluded to that aspect of the story.

    Great review, Jen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That part of the book was a bit odd to me. Her father insists on the hypnosis and Henri is kind of like, "shhh... just trust me." So I thought he would just pretend to do it. But instead he gives her weird powers.

      Without being too spoilery, the book seems a bit coy on whether Henri is a fraud. But she repeatedly allows him to hypnotize her and it appears to work. Once she even asks him to re-hypnotize her to adjust the commands.

      Delete
  3. The attention to detail and the spirited heroine sounds great to me

    ReplyDelete
  4. I also was a huge fan of In The Shadow of Blackbirds! Hmm, that situation does sound a bit creepy. I feel like it's almost even creepier because he's the love interest, haha. Seems like a lot is left up to the reader's interpretation, kind of like In The Shadow, where you could decide if some things were a hoax or not. Although in this case where it is harder to make that connect between politics and hypnosis it might be a bit frustrating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Blackbirds, I could see a clear connection between the spirit photography, the war and the flu epidemic -- to me, it was about death and grief and loss. In this book, I was a little less sure of the connection between politics, suffragism and mind control/hypnosis.

      And yeah, the romance was a bit weird for me -- I found both guys that were interested in her sort of creepy...

      Delete
  5. I'm not much of a history fan but it sounds interesting! Great review... Looking forward to more by you! :)
    Book Maniac Reviews

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This doesn't feel like dense historical fiction -- it's fairly short (maybe 350 pages) and very engaging -- hope you try it!

      Delete
  6. I've been looking for more magical realism books, and this one sounds fantastic! I suppose it's kind of annoying when authors feel the need to throw in a random and unnecessary romance, but to be honest, if the rest of the book is awesome, I can definitely overlook a few flaws :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Others may not see it as magical realism, but after her first hypnosis, it definitely felt that way to me...

      Delete
  7. I cannot wait to read this one...just like all the other books on my TBR pile...hehe It sounds so interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have heard many good things about this book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I really can't wait to read this as well! I have it on my TBR list, and I love how the main character shares a name with me as well! A good historical fiction is nice, and I like the twist of magic to add to it all!

    http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.nl/2014/10/you-had-me-at-hello-review-giveaway.html

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope you'll leave me a comment. I read and appreciate each and every one and try my best to reply. Leave me a link to your blog or website!

 
Blog design by Imagination Designs