When I hear that a TV show or movie was based on a book, I try to pick it up because ALMOST ALWAYS it’s way better in paper format. When I hear it’s by an author who wrote one of my favorite books of all time Hyperion, I start to hyperventilate.
The Terror (also the name of the AMC show) is a moody, suspenseful, historical fiction based on the failed expedition of Sir John Franklin through the Canadian arctic. Back in the 1800s, finding the Northwest Passage was all the rage. Many expeditions set out, only to be turned back by the incredible conditions experienced. The most famous of all was Sir John Franklin’s expedition because not a single man made it back to civilization. All 134 men perished in the snowy wasteland. What author Dan Simmons has done, is take the incredible historical facts, and added a twist. A horrifying monster of massive size, seemingly unkillable and possessing malicious intent towards Franklin and his men.
Even in the height of summer, this book gave me chills. I couldn’t put it down. Waiting, waiting, while Simmons weaved a tale of incredible survival in unsurvivable conditions. The cold, the ice, the lack of fresh food is all enough to kill each and every man on this expedition. But knowing that waiting just outside the frozen ships is a giant polar bear trying to get in, is the perfect mix of eerie horror.
The Terror has a wealth of characters to enjoy and explore. The real main character, the Captain of the HMS Terror, Francis Crozier, is a complicated product of his time, and the main viewpoint if there is one. Simmons employs several characters POVS. Including Dr. Goodsir’s personal diary. The result being unique witnesses to events and showing how the terror outside makes different men react. Some go inward, some rise up, and some go very, very dark.
It’s nothing incredible, or genre defining. But it should be ranked as one of the better historical horrors. It’s just a fun monster tale based in fact. I could have done without some of the more mystical aspects, but I think that’s just a personal preference. Regardless, this was a great read and I ate it up.
3.5 out of 4 stars.