Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

The Cure for Dreaming
by Cat Winters
Read: October 8 - 14, 2014
Published: October 14, 2014 by Amulet Books
Source: NetGalley (THANK YOU!)
Tags: YA, Historical fiction, fantasy, hypnotism 

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

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.

Like any good performer, The Cure for Dreaming presents itself well. The cover of the book is eye catching and a little bit creepy. The fonts are equally interesting and the sometimes odd historical photographs in the book add to the general atmosphere of a story that takes place in 1900 Oregon and combines suffragists with hypnotism. I also loved the opening scene, where heroine Olivia Mead gets called up on stage by mesmerist Henri Reverie to be hypnotized at a performance on Halloween. It's a strong start, but, unfortunately, as the stage lights dimmed, and I got a better look at story in the book, I found that what was underneath had lost its luster. 

I had a few issues with this book, and the first is definitely more of a 'it's me, not you" situation. I have talked about this before, but I love fantasy and I love realistic fiction - including historical realistic fiction; however, sometimes I struggle when the two are combined without proper context. The Cure for Dreaming is mostly historical fiction about a girl who  has become impassioned by the the women's rights, voting moment, while her traditional father wants to erase that dangerous part of her. But the story adds this hypnotism component that started off interesting and became a bit to fantastical for my tastes. I don't know a lot about mesmerism, but some of the things Olivia is made to do - and is able to see - while under hypnosis, was just too much for me to buy. While reading, I spent too much time wondering if plot elements were possible. For me, this book needed to go deeper into the historical fantasy direction, or stay in the bounds of more realistic historical fiction. 

I didn't read this author's other book, and so maybe my expectations for this story were way off (i.e. my expectations were't based on any real fact, just my own suppositions), but I expected it to be creepier, and it never really got there for me. Olivia's father's behavior becomes pretty scary/crazy, but I also thought he didn't go far enough with it for the story to feel intense enough for me. I kept waiting for something bigger to happen, like a more serious villain than the general anti-suffragist population and handsy rich boys. The plot just felt a little scattered in the middle, and in the end, it wasn't really any big surprise how it all turned out. For me, this book didn't offer me anything better than other suffragist type books I've read, and because the hypnotism angle (and as you'll see, the romance,) didn't full work for me, the story as a whole fell flat.

Some spoilery thoughts regarding Olivia's mom:

I also didn't love the romance. It starts off with sort of a love triangle. Or actually, it has more of a love progression, or Decoy Boy. It's clear immediately that one of theses guys is a Bad Choice. Thankfully, it doesn't take Olivia too long to figure that out, and let the wrong one go. And that aspect of the story wasn't  that threatening and didn't bother me. Unfortunately, I never really connected to Olivia's romance with Henri. The whole story takes place over a very short time, and I had trouble with the fact that Henri kept hypnotizing Olivia against her will. Though, there are bigger circumstances at play, and that does sound worse than it was. I just needed more to feel anything from them, and I wasn't emotionally roused by Henri's tragic life situations either. The romance isn't a huge element, and the end is more open, but what was here, didn't grab me. 

However, I did get some good things from this book. The story made me re-prioritize reading Dracula. That's a classic that has been on my list forever, but I've never gotten to it. I'd like to do that soon during this fall season. Dracula is a theme in this story, and it made me want to read it ASAP. Secondly, I definitely want to do some more reading on the hypnotism movement. I hoped that the author would include a note about it, because I was especially curious about the bounds of what is possible under hypnotism. But I'm excited to do my own research, instead. 

Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone


  1. Hmmm I'm so torn on if I want to pick this one up! I was intrigued by the historical aspect combined with fantasy, but like you, I'm a little picky about how those things play out so that concerns me. THE PREMISE IS SO INTRIGUING THO. And that cover!! I think I'll sit on this one a bit and wait for some other reviews from people I trust! May be a good one to library!

    Thanks for your honest thoughts! Appreciate them!

  2. I'm sorry this one didn't work for you, girl. To be honest the premise sounds amazing and the combination of historical + hypnotism intrigues me but... the way it ends, I don't even know if I want to bother. :/ At any rate, I have a ton of other books I need to get to first anyway. Thanks for sharing! <3

  3. I'm scared about this one because I don't know if it's the right book for me. I love the sound of it and I love the cover but the fact that you didn't fully love this one or the execution for that matter has me a bit worried. Either way, lovely review Lauren :)

  4. NOOO :( I am so so so sad that you did not love this book. I'm so sorry Lauren :( I loved this book to pieces. But I do get why you had issues. Sort of. Probably :D but sigh. I adored the romance, hih. I wouldn't call this a love triangle, though.. as I felt like she never had any real feelings for the first guy, and they didn't do anything. :) but yeah. Glad it was over fast :) Anyway. Thank you for being honest about your feelings sweetie. <3 I do hope you will end up giving her first book a try, as it is stunning :)

  5. Oh no! I've seen so many positive reviews for this novel, it almost convinced me this was something I HAD TO READ this year. I mean who knows, it could work out for me, but after reading about your experience, I'm not so sure anymore. I'll have to ask Heather about her experience. Hers was positive, and I'll probably wait for Keertana's thoughts too (if she reads it, that is). In the meantime, I think I'll try Cat's debut novel before I test out this one; with over 3,000 ratings on GR and a likability of 92%, I think it's safer to go that route first. Plus, the Spanish Influenza might be a little more interesting to read about than hypnotism.

    Thanks for being honest! & Sorry for not being around much. I've missed this place terribly. <3

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  6. Dracula has been a classic on my TBR for a looong time too, so glad to see this novel made you want to prioritize that. I've been putting off reading this one, for some reason I can't quite comprehend myself, but perhaps it's because I'm beginning to realize I need to lower my expectations quite drastically before diving into this. I looooved Winters's debut (READ IT!) so the less-than-stellar reviews for this have been disappointing. Plus, the romance doesn't sound like one I can get behind and I struggle, just as you do, with believable historical fantasy. (Libba Bray does it so effortlessly that I forget, sometimes, how much of a struggle it really is.) Thanks for such an honest and thorough review, though, Lauren--I feel more prepared for this novel now. Hopefully, I'll enjoy it marginally more if I go into it with little to no expectation. *fingers crossed*

  7. I see your point about the book being slightly fantastical, but not quite fantastical enough. And I do agree with your opinion on it. Fantasy is my favorite genre, so I think I just have a bit more leniency with things like that.
    I'm not sure I'd call this creepy, or In the Shadow of Blackbirds creepy. There's a air of unease in both, though. However, I highly recommend reading In the Shadow of Blackbirds. It was one of my favorite reads from last year and is a much stronger story than this one is (in my humble opinion).
    I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one more, but it's always a good thing when books encourage you to do more reading/research. I agree - I need to read Dracula ASAP. :)

  8. I didn't read this author's previous book and I didn't even know about this book (oops!) so this one was a complete shock to me until you mentioned that you were reading it. It looked really creepy to me when I looked it up so it's interesting to see that you mention that it isn't very creepy! Oh wow, I would love to read Dracula again. I have read it before and I loved it. What a great reminder you've given me, Lauren.

  9. I loved the author's previous book (Shadow of Blackbirds) and kinda hoped that this one would be as creepy (because that cover just screams SCARY ALERT) but after reading the first dozens of pages I was left disappointed... I tried giving it a chance but like you I'm having the same problems and I just can't get myself to be emotionally invested in this story. There's something about it for me that just feels anti-climactic somehow D: And I don't see the chemistry between the MC and Henri, either. Then again, it's still 30% for me, so there's still more I need to read but I totally see where you're coming from.

    Faye at The Social Potato


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