Dan Simmons’s 2007 epic horror novel, The Terror, is the finest work of his I’ve read yet. A historical fiction, this long story documents the failed 1845 Franklin Expedition.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a horror novel of this stature. I’ve read a lot of short, grisly stuff lately, so it was nice to kick back with something by Simmons: he who is known for painstakingly detailed, complex narratives. This one challenged me — especially some bits toward the end — and I liked that.
Told in alternating perspectives from several crew members on the two icebound ships, the pace never really relents and Simmons is able to keep the story interesting. I always wanted to know what happened next. And, without my realizing, a large and complex world had been created, one filled with men I truly cared about and wanted to see live . . . but we all know how the Franklin Expedition went. Part of the horror in this novel comes from the inevitable: we know these men will die; it’s a matter of timing and circumstance. Simmons handles his large cast of characters with a deft, skilled hand, and he makes each death meaningful, heartbreaking.
I was afraid I wouldn’t like The Terror; I thought I might get bogged down or bored. But I didn’t. I really enjoyed myself! And now I can’t wait for the television adaptation.