Summary: 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.
Source: I received a digital copy from NetGalley.
The Cure for Dreaming was a blend of historical fact and fiction and was set in the early 1900s. Like the author’s other novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, it blended fact and fiction quite well in the early 1900 setting and featured photos from the time period that helped add depth to an already well written story. Instead of war and sickness, The Cure for Dreaming featured another, equally frightening topic: women’s suffrage. In Olivia’s world, women had their place and they were not allowed to vote. While women like Susan B. Anthony were fighting for those rights, men like Olivia’s father scoffed at the whole matter and tried to keep their daughters and wives docile and obedient. Olivia’s struggle resonated with me, as I’m sure it would for most girls and women. I can not imagine not being able to work, vote, or wear pants. I can’t imagine having to be obedient, silent, and let my husband control me.
Of course, like In the Shadow of Blackbirds, supernatural elements were a part of the story, though subtlety. Olivia attended a show and the hypnotist took her on the stage and was able to hypnotize her into being as stiff as a board and he stood on top of her. Finding out about this gave Olivia’s father the bright idea to hypnotize the rebellious nature right out of her. It didn’t work very well, except on the surface. Instead of feeling docile, Olivia was forced to say “All is Well” when she was upset and the images around her became terrifying. Her father started to look like Dracula and Olivia was seeing monsters and darkness everywhere she looked.
The whole matter led Olivia on a path where she needed the help of the hypnotist, had to do something to get out from under her father’s thumb, all while she was struggling with liking a boy. I loved the story and where it lead. Olivia’s father was terrifying, especially when he was working on patients as a dentist. The Cure for Dreaming was a great story about a girl who wanted to be more in a setting where she was not quite able to do so. I loved the plot and Olivia’s struggle.
While I enjoyed the novel a lot and it was frightening in it’s own way, I was disappointed that it wasn’t the creepy novel I expected. Of course, I did pick this up the week of Halloween and that’s what I was in the mood for. It was frightening because I felt the main character’s frustration and fear of being kept quiet for the rest of her life. But it wasn’t a book I’d recommend for anyone in the mood for something a bit more creepy. However, I do highly recommend it. I think it’s perfect as a YA book so that young girls can read it and perhaps understand how stifling the past was for women and how far we’ve come in just a short time.