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The Virgin Cure
By Ami McKay
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The Virgin Cure

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The Virgin Cure
A Novel
By Ami McKay
Doubleday: Large Print Edition (2012)
ISBN: 978-1-6209-0195-3
Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - July 26, 2016

In 2012, Ami McKay's outstanding novel, The Virgin Cure was published. This work of historical fiction followed the story of Moth, a twelve-year-old who is first kicked out of her house and sold, by her own mother, to an abusive woman who wanted her to work as a maid. Moth runs away and becomes a street urchin, and may have remained so had she not stumbled across the owner of a brothel who saw much promise in Moth. The promise that Moth held was the fact that she was untouched, and virgins could bring a very high price. They were especially in demand by syphilitic men who wanted to try the 'virgin cure' to rid them of their disease. I can see you shaking your head, but in the Victorian era, in both the United States and England, many people thought that having sex with a young virgin was a sure-fired cure for syphilis. This same notion still exists in parts of Africa, in the form of the raping of young girls and even infants, in the mistaken belief that this practice will cure AIDS/HIV. In other areas of the world, even today, having sex with a young virgin is thought to reverse the aging process, increase vitality, and other such nonsense. The only sure thing about this practice is that all to many young girls are infected with myriad of diseases, and that they often suffer both physical and mental trauma - and the men are never cured of anything by taking this type of cure.

It is against the backdrop of this all too real public health issue that McKay set her book, and it is a fascinating read. The only problem is, when the book ends, you want to know more about what happened to Moth. For those who read this book when it was first published, the wait is over, and for those who have just discovered it, you are in for a treat. The treat being that McKay's new book, The Witches of New York is slated for release in October of 2016 - and it is the long awaited sequel to The Virgin Cure. The Witches of New York picks up Moth's story in 1880, where we find her using the name Adelaide Thom. That's about all I know about the new book. I also don't know when or if a large print version of the book is going to be printed. I hope it is as I really want to read it ;-)

Fortunately, The Virgin Cure is available in large print, so if you haven't read it already, you can grab a copy and get to work on it... I don't want to spoil your fun by telling you too much about the story, except to add that Moth is a remarkable character who is both courageous and street smart. Throughout this book McKay makes you feel like you are back in 1870's New York, so much so you can almost smell the stench of the city and hear the never-ending noise that seems to have permeated it. In addition, the story appears to be historically accurate, and it is definitely unforgettable. So sit back and prepare for a wonderful journey into the past, just watch where you step...


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