By Dan Simmons
on January 8, 2007
Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:
Their captain’s insane vision of a Northwest Passage has kept the crewmen of The Terror trapped in Arctic ice for two years without a thaw. But the real threat to their survival isn’t the ever-shifting landscape of white, the provisions that have turned to poison before they open them, or the ship slowly buckling in the grip of the frozen ocean.
The real threat is whatever is out in the frigid darkness, stalking their ship, snatching one seaman at a time or whole crews, leaving bodies mangled horribly or missing forever. Captain Crozier takes over the expedition after the creature kills its original leader, Sir John Franklin.
Drawing equally on his own strengths as a seaman and the mystical beliefs of the Eskimo woman he’s rescued, Crozier sets a course on foot out of the Arctic and away from the insatiable beast. But every day the dwindling crew becomes more deranged and mutinous, until Crozier begins to fear there is no escape from an ever-more-inconceivable nightmare.
This book had been on my TBR for a long time. The story of the Franklin expedition is really interesting, and knowing that this is a fictional horror story based on that real event was very intriguing.
Shortly after I started reading The Terror, I learned that AMC is airing a TV adaptation this year. I will definitely be checking out the first episode.
The Terror is a big book (Goodreads puts it at 769 pages), so it took me a little while to feel like I was really getting into the book. There are a lot of characters, and it feels like not a lot is really happening at times. But reading the details about life on the ships Erebus and Terror was fascinating, and that combined with the hardship of being stuck in the ice in the Arctic for years with dwindling supplies made for interesting reading, even when nothing seemed to be happening.
I was a little disappointed that this book wasn’t as ‘horror’ or scary as I thought it would be, but there was one really good creepy scene near the end that keeps popping into my head. But I think for me, the scariest part of the book was thinking about the claustrophobia of being stuck on the ships, and the sense of hopelessness as illness takes over and supplies start to run out. I said in my Litsy review that the ‘true’ part of this story was scarier to me than any fictional monster.
I was really excited to see that a museum nearby has a new exhibit on the Franklin expedition that runs until September, so I am planning to go check that out in the next couple of weeks.
This was a good book and I’m glad I finally read it, and I’m really interested in seeing the TV adaptation!