Epeolatry Book Review: The Body Harvest by Michael J. Seidlinger


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Title: The Body Harvest
Author:Michael J. Seidlinger
Genre:  horror
Publisher: CLASH Books
Release Date: 23rd July, 2024

Synopsis: Will is a fraud. Olivia is a wreck. They meet at a grief share group and quickly bond over their brokenness. They also have a peculiar hobby; they seek out sickness. Will hunts for the latest strain of flu. Olivia doesn’t feel comfortable in her body if she isn’t suffering from a fever. They become virus chasers, finding confidence in their ability to conquer every affliction they come across.
They soon discover an online community of chasers called The Source and realize that their hobby isn’t all that odd when seen from the right distance. And then the mysterious Zaff literally walks into their life, claiming that he has the goods, knows where the latest outbreak will drop. Intrigued, Will and Olivia decide to take their hobby to the point of obsession, believing that if they can conquer the newest strain, nobody can hurt them.

It’s interesting how we spend fall and winter being warned about cold and flu season. Once spring comes, it seems that the warnings end. But spring has its own issues with pollen and other allergies. Then summer rolls in and the warning about protecting ourselves from the sun are all around. The idea that we move from one illness inducing season to another could make one positively germophobic. Have you ever considered how tough it is to remember what it’s like to be well when you’re sick? Or how when you’re well, the thought of being sick is the last thing on your mind? What if you choose to make yourself sick just for the feeling of it?

The Body Harvest by Michael J. Seidlinger is body horror like no other. The novel follows two characters, Will and Olivia, as they navigate the world looking for the next illness. Who remembers the craze around 2020 of youth licking toilets, handrails, and eating laundry detergent? The Body Harvest is a lot of that. Readers beware—this novel contains graphic depictions of bodily functions and violence which, at times, are sexual in nature.

The novel is broken up into three Acts. Act One introduces the reader to Will and Olivia’s joint hobby. There are three major points of this Act—the first is learning the tragic histories of the two characters. The second is the lengths they go to for a new illness. The third is the constant evaluation of their body fluids. While this normally wouldn’t be off-putting, the dialog that takes place during these scenes is dull. The two main characters are mistaken for drug addicts at one point and, yes, the conversations they have are akin to a high pair of addicts speaking to each other. While seemingly accurate, it doesn’t make for good entertainment. 

Act Two follows Will and Octavia as they discover an online social group that has chosen to infect themselves. Up to this point, Will and Octavia have referred to themselves as virus chasers, but the group prefers the term viral-affinites. From here, a third character, Zaff, enters the picture. Zaff turns up the level of depravity. With revenge killing and new means of catching a virus (such as vulgar sexual acts and the like) the story becomes much harder to read. The worst part is the reader isn’t even sure these things are happening. A comment made early in the Act Two about having a fever above 103°F and not knowing what’s real anymore leaves the reader guessing what is actually happening.

Once Will and Olivia achieve their ultimate sickness, Act Three portrays these two trying to return to a normal life. However, like drug addicts, there is a boundary that can’t be uncrossed no matter how clean a life you lead afterward. 

For me, this novel really fell apart while going from one extreme to another and back. The idea of seventy pages of discussing phlegm color and taking temperatures did not leave me hopeful for the rest of the novel. Act Two has some of the most graphic violence I’ve ever read, and I’ll spare you the details—refer to the above warning. Act Three is a return to the first with the characters now questioning why they are sick after all the pains they went through to avoid ever being sick again. The language and dialog throughout the novel is dry and, at times, cryptic without clarification. Even the ending didn’t seem to satisfy the story and was almost unnecessary.

The Body Harvest by Michael J. Seidlinger is a body horror novel like nothing you’ve read before. If you are looking for a novel with moments of shock value, this one is for you. Otherwise, I recommend passing.


Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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