"Seal's descriptions of the creatures are elegant, exotic and sensual."-The Sunday Times (London)
"A highly charged mix of snake snippets, travel writing, tall tales, and entertaining anecdotes . . . A white-knuckled read."-The Daily Mail
Snakes are Jeremy Seal's fascination-and his greatest fear. In an attempt to overcome his phobia, he undertakes a voyage to Australia, Africa, India, and America in search of the most notorious and deadly species, and to meet the people who live among them. He encounters a Kenyan snake man, whose entire life seems like a preparation for a bite from the terrible
Snakes are Jeremy Seal's fascination-and his greatest fear. In an attempt to overcome his phobia, he undertakes a voyage to Australia, Africa, India, and America in search of the most notorious and deadly species, and to meet the people who live among them. He encounters a Kenyan snake man, whose entire life seems like a preparation for a bite from the terrible black mamba; witch doctors, who use snakes as instruments of vengeance; frightened Australian convicts; and even a preacher in the Deep South, who uses his church's rattlesnakes to try to murder his wife. Along the way Seal recounts amazing scientific snake lore, legends, and historical facts. An erudite but highly entertaining narrative in the English travel-writing tradition, and a finalist for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, The Snakebite Survivors' Club tells a funny, gruesomely fascinating account of the world of snakes and the people they repel, mesmerize, and sometimes kill.
Seal's writing style is appropriately distanced without being removed from the story at hand. At the beginning of The Snakebite Survivors' Club he recounts the trepidation that overcame him years ago when he stood outside the entrance to the Reptile House at the London Zoo. In that brief chapter the reader perfectly understands Seal as a person and as an ophidiophobe. This chapter isn't just background; it's an introduction in the truest sense, helping Seal become instantly endeared to the reader as a fantastic writer, a dryly humorous storyteller, and a fallible, friendly person.
In the book, Seal goes to America in search of a woman whose husband tried to kill her by forcing her to handle poisonous snakes; to Africa to come face-to-face with the deadly black mamba; to Australia to meet a fearless snakebite survivor named Dundee, and to India where he finds that snakes are more revered than feared for their menacing power. His narration of these travels is packed with historiography and impeccable research. Seal takes great pains to contextualize each of his far-flung journeys by detailing the historical relationship between each location, snakebite survivor, and particular snake.
Emily Burg is a fearless freelance writer who lives in New York City.
Jeremy Seal has written for numerous English newspapers. His first book, A Fez of the Heart, was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and short-listed for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. His second book, The Snakebite Survivor's Club, was a New York Public Library Exceptional Book of the Year. He lives in Bath, England, with his wife and daughters.
See all customer reviews