“A box jellyfish is little more than goo, yet it can kill a man in less than five minutes. A spider or a scorpion can be unceremoniously crushed under our feet, yet some of their venoms can take us out just as easily,” Christie Wilcox reports in Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry. In this book, based on her PhD research, Wilcox introduces us to venom scientists around the world, telling what venoms do and how they work, and exploring their present and potential medical applications. She also includes stories of survivors of near-fatal venom exposure, individuals who — for highs or putative health benefits — self-inject venoms, and even venom-using murderers. And yes, Wilcox also recounts her own run-ins with venomous barbs and stingers.