Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

Title: The Cure for Dreaming

Author: Cat Winters

Information on series: Not part of a series

Audience:  Young Adult

Rating (scale of 1-5, with 5 being highest): 3.5

TL;DR: Historical fiction with a hint of fantasy. Highlights the struggle for women’s suffrage at the turn of the last century.

Longer review: This is Cat Winter’s second historical fiction book for a YA audience that has some fantasy/paranormal element. This book is set in 1900 in Portland, Oregon. The protagonist, Olivia Mead, is a pro-suffrage teenager who is struggling to assert her opinions or gain any freedom from her domineering and anti-suffrage father.

Olivia is chosen to be hypnotized by Henri Reverie on Halloween night (also her birthday, this fact plays a very minor role).  Olivia’s father sees this in the paper and hires Henri to hypnotize Olivia into more “ladylike” tendencies.  Instead, Henri tells Olivia to “see the world as it is.” This results in Olivia seeing her father as a vampire (her favorite book is Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and suffragettes with a heavenly glow.  Of course, there is a romantic element between Olivia and Henri. Together they team up to affect change and advance the efforts toward universal suffrage.

This book is a good introduction to fantasy for those who would not normally be inclined to read fantasy. The fantasy element is present, but there is no real world building beyond contextualizing the historical setting. Some of the message about free speech and rights is a little heavy handed at times, but that does go along with the storyline. Overall, it’s a quick read that may get some fantasy readers to learn about history or get some history lovers to appreciate the freedoms fantasy writing allows (humans doing things that they normally cannot).  The romantic element is fairly chaste and is suitable for older middle school readers.

Read alikes:
Life After Life—Kate Atkinson
The story of one girl’s life throughout the first half of the 20th century. This story is largely historical fiction but may appeal to fantasy readers. The main character dies several times throughout the book, but is either able to change the past to prevent the fate or mysteriously defeats death.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds-Cat Winters.
Has a similar style and tone to The Cure for Dreaming, but set in 1918 during the height of the spiritualist movement and the Spanish Influenza. Features haunting pictures of the era to drive home how devastating the flu really was.

Review by Olivia of the Ericson Public Library

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