The most disturbing book I’ve read recently | Sealed book review


I’m currently in a semi-hiatus while I’m in the process of packing all my things up to move house at the end of this week.

However, semi-hiatus means that I’m only not really posting, not that I’m no longer reading anything.

Despite the fact that I’m struggling to post things due to not really having any of my physical books to hand (you can understand the annoyance of having no books to photograph in my September wrap up), I thought I’d share a book review for a novel that sincerely did give me the fear this spooky season.

A few months ago I made an order from Dead Ink Books, where I ordered its spooky bundle, which was three horror books.

One of those was Sealed by Naomi Booth.

I’d have read them there and then but I thought I’d save them for October.

Sealed is a short book, only being 170 pages ish, which makes it doubly interesting in how well it carried out its task to sincerely creep you out.

It follows the story of Alice, who is heavily pregnant, and her partner Pete, who have had an on-off relationship for years, before Alice falls pregnant and they decide to move out to the country to have the baby and spend Alice’s maternity leave there.

While this is happening, an epidemic where people’s skin begins to seal up, such as around their ears, eyes, nose and mouth, cutting them off from the world and killing them.

Alice, working in the housing department, has seen some of the horrors of this happening, and after her mother’s death, she is terrified and fascinated with documenting everything about the disease she can, convinced that it is widespread, despite Pete’s wishes that she stops obsessing over it.

So, after moving out into the country, it is supposed to be a fresh start, but it turns out that the council are trying to push everyone out of the way of fires, and all the services in the village they move to have shut down, including the medical resources, due to outbreaks of the epidemic.

I’d say this book gets a bit hysterical, which you would rightly be if there was a chance your skin could randomly start swallowing you up. You can feel Alice’s frustration and fear with what’s going on, but you can also see that she is completely obsessed, and perhaps even imagining things that aren’t there.

The book’s ending is a bit random, and I would have regularly rated it a three star, but I bumped it up to a four, because this novella is just so deliciously creepy.

I watch a lot of horror movies, and love the horror genre in books, but no book has ever given me the uncomfortable, dread feeling like this one did. If you’re looking for some serious nightmare fuel, that isn’t written in that cliche horror way, pick this one up.

It’s set in Australia, which I only realised when they started using words like bogan, picked up from my extensive watching of Australia’s version of Gogglebox. It’s teeming with heat and hysteria, and is something that I know I will be thinking about for years to come. I’ve read a lot of books where something happens, but this one felt very real, as the epidemic, although a little far-fetched, was based on a sort of immune-disease building up over time, rather than something happening all over the world in a snap instant, which is more likely to see in this genre.

Quick readers will likely be done with it in a few hours, or a day, and I genuinely do think it’s one that will stay with you. I definitely have a new fear.

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