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From Barnes & NobleThe Snakebite Survivors' Club is an eerily indulgent read. Far from your average adventure travel tale, it's wide enough in scope to please those looking for a horror movie-esque around-the-world epic, as well as those who are after a fresh perspective on America, India, Australia, and Africa from a seasoned travel writers' perspective. However, those easily freaked out should beware. Seal describes the biology, physiology, and cultural lore of each snake so masterfully that you'll likely look twice the next time you go outside, no matter where you live. I read The Snakebite Survivors' Club while lying on the grass in a park, and after every few pages I'd jump up in terror, fearing that there was a slithering creature lurking nearby. And I live in New York City.
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.