I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet, Abrams Genres: YA, Historical Fiction
Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its females 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.
The year is 1900. Olivia Mead is a teenager living in Portland, Oregon with her father the notorious dentist Dr. Mead. Olivia’s mother left when she was just four years old, leaving to pursue her theatric dreams.
Oregon at this time was a state divided on Women’s Rights. There was a strong Suffragette movement, despite the fact the men of Oregon had voted down suffrage referendums. Olivia dreams of going to college, of furthering her education and broadening her mind. Her father however doesn’t want her getting big ideas – she’s a woman, she should get married and stay at home.
We join the story on Olivia’s birthday. Having attended a Suffragette rally earlier in the day she is out with friends at show – a talented hypnotist from Montreal, Henri Reverie. His sister is providing the musical accompaniment on the organ. Olivia is selected from the audience to be hypnotised and finds that she quite enjoys the experience, even if she doesn’t know what happened to her!
However, her father finds out about her hypnotism and her attendance at a suffragette rally. Disgusted, he employs Henri to hypnotise Olivia, to cure her of her ‘dreams’, to remove women’s rights from her mind and to make her less argumentative. Henri doesn’t approve of these actions but he desperately needs the money. Henri and Olivia’s paths continue to cross and eventually they strike up a partnership, a way he can make the money he needs and she can keep her personality.
This was such an interesting, gripping read! I’ve read a few novels set around this time period, but this one really stood out to me. I found the whole premise of the book fascinating. Obviously it is based around fact, women were often maltreated for standing up for their rights, some even ended up in asylums. So this idea of finding a cure for their lofty dreams, a way to keep them quiet, was real.
In this novel we see the attitudes of the time towards women, the ignorance with which they were treated and the dismissal of their rights. Olivia’s father’s insistence that she be removed of her argumentativeness leads to trouble for her when an admirer tries to take advantage of her – one of the dangers faced by women when their voice is removed.
I also really liked Olivia’s obsession with Dracula. The visions that she sees and their Dracula-esque nature really add another, darker gothic layer to this novel.
In all honesty, my only complaint about this book is that it had to end. I wish there were a sequel, I want more of Olivia, Henri and Genevieve.