Wednesday, July 3, 2013

BLOG TOUR: The Virgin Cure by Amy McKay

Title: The Virgin Cure
Author: Ami KcKay
Genre: Adult Women's/Historical Fiction
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Release Date: June 26/2012
Adquired: Print copy provided by Publisher
Goodreads: ADD

From the author of the number one Canadian bestseller The Birth House comes the story of a young girl abandoned to the streets of post-Civil War New York City.

"I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart."

Set on the streets of Lower Manhattan in 1871, The Virgin Cure is the story of Moth, a girl abandoned by her father and raised by a mother telling fortunes to the city's desperate women. One summer night, twelve-year-old Moth is pulled from her bed and sold as a servant to a finely dressed woman. It is this betrayal suffered at the hands of her own mother that changes her life forever.

Knowing that her mother is so close while she is locked away in servitude, Moth bides her time until she can escape, only to find her old home deserted and her mother gone without a trace. Moth must struggle to survive alone in the murky world of the Bowery, a wild and lawless enclave filled with thieves, beggars, sideshow freaks, and prostitutes. She eventually meets Miss Everett, the proprietress of an "Infant School," a brothel that caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for "willing and clean" companions—desirable young virgins like Moth.

Moth also finds friendship with Dr. Sadie, a female physician struggling against the powerful forces of injustice, who teaches Moth to question and observe the world around her. The doctor hopes to protect Moth from falling prey to a terrible myth known as the "virgin cure"—the tragic belief that deflowering a "fresh maid" can cleanse the blood and heal men afflicted with syphilis—that has destroyed the lives of other Bowery girls.

Ignored by society, unprotected by the law, Moth dreams of independence. But there's a high price to pay for freedom, and no one knows that better than a girl from Chrystie Street.


If all historical fiction did these wonderfully warm things to my heart, I'd say.."bring them all to me! I will read every last one." Unfortunately my experience with historical fiction has come to be one that I don't favour over all others. But you, The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay, you played a tune my soul couldn't ignore. The flow of words was exquisite, and done with such care as to not bore you half to death. Pages were flying, I was moving from one piece of furniture to the next, and before I knew it, I was sitting in a heap, turning the last page, and breathing a huge sigh of satisfaction.

I'm not sure what the world is trying to tell me, this my second book in a matter of 2 weeks about a young girl, abandoned, and finding her way through the streets of a town in the 1800's. The town this time around is Manhattan, New York, the year, 1871. Moth lives with her gypsy mother, a cold-hearted woman with her eyes set on the amount of cash she can acquire, as opposed to the care and well-being of 12-year-old Moth. Finally seeing an opportunity to be rid of the child, Moth's mother sends her off in the middle of the night with a woman, whose future actions prove to be the first of Moth's struggles for survival. Never losing the notion of going back home to her mother, Moth learns the hard way, how unforgiving and menacing the streets can be when you're willing to do anything for a penny.

Ami McKay deserves a thousand congratulations, her ability to chose the perfect tone to convey this story is an admirable feat all on it's own. I was there, scurrying behind Moth in the streets of lower Manhattan, I felt her wonder, and awe, and fear, in every pore. The touch of every silk, every chiffon dress, every ribbon of a corset pulled tight. I looked up and followed her gaze as she described the beautifully furnished homes she entered, physically cringed as she endured pain from the residents within. There was very little I wasn't able to comprehend, or envision-how wonderfully detailed her writing was. At first, I found it to be distracting, but the use of side notes was welcoming after a while. Ami provided definitions, facts, recipes, and further thoughts of her characters in a column to the side of the running plot-they were helpful, and more times than not, humourously entertaining.

Each character held weight for me, they're clothes were real, they're personalities infectious or infuriating, and their interaction with Moth was a palpable thing. I'm a huge dialogue buff, and didn't find my attention wavering once as the scenes played out. Moth formed relationships with characters I grew to know by heart, another effort well spent by the author. Ami ensured that her characters were well-rounded, she wanted us to know their every move and intention. Moth sat by my heart the entire time. I felt like I was given the privilege of watching her grow into her own, like I was there from the very beginning. She was weak yes, but was able to be strong when being strong mattered. Even when she chose a questionable fate, I silently cheered for what she would later realize.

There is no reason why historical fiction needs to have such a daunting feeling attached to it. The Virgin Cure was, to me, a prime example of the genre done to perfection. Or at least, perfect for those of us whose usual genre tends to be Adult literary fiction or YA. It was a smooth transition, and one that I hope to continue exploring. Now..on The Birth House by Ami McKay!

Recommended for Fans of: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Women's Fiction


Ami McKay’s debut novel, The Birth House was a # 1 bestseller in Canada, winner of three CBA Libris Awards, nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and a book club favourite around the world. Her new novel. The Virgin Cure, is inspired by the life of her great- great grandmother, Dr. Sarah Fonda Mackintosh, a female physician in nineteenth century New York. Born and raised in Indiana, Ami now lives in Nova Scotia.

Contact Links:


Thank-you to Trish from TLC Blog Tours for hosting this tour, and to the publisher sending me a copy of the book to review!
CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour


  1. Hey! I'm literally reading this one RIGHT NOW! Reeka, sometimes our sameness scares me. ;) Because I am only 70% done, I didn't read your review yet because I want to savour the story myself first before sharing the wonder of it with others. But I just had to say I was reading it when I saw this pop up in my reader.;)

    1. OH MAAN! Right!? This is why we became internet buddies. You + Me = great minds Cat, GREAT..MINDS =). I can't wait to read your thoughts on it! Your reviews are definitely in my top 5 favourite reviews to read. So well described.

  2. I want to read everything by Ami McKay, even though I haven't read a single book by her yet. I'm so glad you loved this one!

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  3. "Pages were flying, I was moving from one piece of furniture to the next, and before I knew it, I was sitting in a heap, turning the last page, and breathing a huge sigh of satisfaction."
    This was me too...could not put it down!!


Comment love is always appreciated! =)
I will always try my best to comment back!