Set in Oregon in the 1900s, a young girl named Olivia Mead, lives with her controlling father who feels that her headstrong behavior needs to be snuffed out. He hires a hypnotist to put her under hypnosis and remove her rebellion, but instead, Henri gives her the gift of seeing the world as it truly is. Olivia has dreams of going to college and standing up for women's rights in a time when women were expected to be obedient, quiet little homemakers with no goals aside from finding a husband and raising children.
Henri's character was a bit mysterious and kept me guessing throughout the book. Olivia's father was infuriating. I wanted to feel sorry him, his wife left him alone to raise their daughter while she ran off to pursue her own dreams, but his attitude was so vile that I felt only contempt for the man. Olivia was strong minded and intelligent. She was a likable character, even if I didn't feel like I entirely connected with her.
There were added elements of horror when Olivia sees people's true nature as visions of beasts and vampires, but none of it was particularly terrifying. The romance in this book was sweet and didn't overpower the story. The pacing was great and I never lost interest. I think there could have been more depth to the story and the characters, but this was still an enjoyable read.
I really enjoyed this book. I've read one other Cat Winters book - In the Shadow of Blackbirds - which I also just loved. If I had to choose between the two, Blackbirds has a bit of an edge, but I'd recommend either book to people who enjoy YA, historical fiction and/or magical realism.
The Cure for Dreaming is set in turn of the century Portland, Oregon, which is my beloved hometown. This no doubt enhanced the read for me, because I could picture some of the locations in my mind, and recognized street names. Cat Winters lives in Portland, and she more than did justice to our beautiful and historic city.
In addition, the main character, Olivia is a suffragette with an insufferable and abusive father who seems intent upon turning his daughter into one of the girls from my last - not remotely as enjoyable - book (Only Ever Yours) by Louise O'Neill. He asks a mesmerist who has come to time to hypnotize Olivia into docility and renunciation of her feminist views. Not surprisingly this backfires gloriously.
“Your future is to become a respectable housewife and mother. Women belong in the home, and inside some man’s home you’ll stay.”
The final thing that I want to mention about this book is how literary it is. There are references to Nellie Bly, The Wizard of Oz, Edith Wharton and most especially, Dracula by Bram Stoker. Olivia is a huge fan of Dracula and references to the gothic horror masterpiece abound. She is unapologetically bookish - a bluestocking who buys books when she can afford them, and who saves her money so she can escape her father's tyranny once she reaches adulthood.