Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars
“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.”
I always really enjoy the historical aspect to Winters’ novels; she does an excellent job of blending history with paranormal aspects that make the story even more intriguing. This story focuses on a lot of elements significant both historically and to human nature.
I loved the background on the suffragist movement of the 1900’s. This was an interesting time in history and it was fun to take a peek into it. I also enjoyed the discussion of how long-term illness like cancer is finally being treated in a more technical way. Additionally there was a lot in here on mesmerists which was incredibly interesting. I always love how Winters focuses on a few topics for each book and as a reader you get to learn a lot about these interesting topics.
Olivia was an intriguing character as well. She’s not outrageously into women’s rights but she does want to be educated. She really doesn’t even get drawn into the suffragist movement until her super strict (and somewhat creepy) father drives her to it.
Once Olivia obtains the ability to see a person’s true nature things really get interesting. These parts really drive home how different a person’s internal nature can be from their external appearance. While this is by no means a startling observation; it is interesting how it is depicted and how it helps Olivia see that all the bright and shiny people aren’t usually as bright and shiny as they seem.
I also really enjoyed the character of Henry Reverie and his mesmerism. The fact that Henry is portrayed as an honest and upright young man who makes his living performing mesmerism is somewhat ironic and makes him an interesting character.
The ending is wrapped up fairly well and realistic, if a bit disappointing. I was left wondering what the rest of Olivia’s life will hold for her, and I guess that was the point…that Olivia’s future can hold anything… Still I would have liked a bit more closure.
Overall this was an intriguing read and I enjoyed both the historical and paranormal elements to it. I would recommend to fans of Winters other novels and to fans of historical novels featuring some supernatural elements. I love that Winters books are always set in the early 1900’s in the United States; it’s such an interesting period of time for the US and you don’t see a lot of YA book set then.