Book Review

The Terror – Dan Simmons #HistoricalFiction #amreading #BookReview


The men on board the HMS Terror have every expectation of finding the Northwest Passage. But what they don’t expect is a monstrous predator lurking behind the Arctic ice. When the expedition’s leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a horrifying end, Captain Francis Crozier takes command, leading his surviving crewmen on a last desperate attempt to flee south across the ice.

But another winter is rapidly approaching, and with it, scurvy and starvation. Crozier and his men may find that there is no escaping the terror stalking them southward. And with the crushing cold and the fear of almost certain death at their backs, the most horrifying monster among them may be each other.

My Review

You’ll want to turn the lights on for this one, or at least read it in daylight. The fact that this its base on historical facts makes it even scarier, mix in the supernatural and it gets even more so. Think about this for a moment, you’re trapped on a ship, far beyond civilization, on ice, ice, ice, oh I said that a few times already, didn’t I.😄

I made sure to read this book in the summer because seriously my winter would have been even colder than normal for me (all that reading about ice and snow), never truly feeling warm in your bones ever again (a bit dramatic I know). Of course, it certainly makes me feel even more sorry for those poor souls who suffered on those ships in such bone-chilling and harsh conditions, I mean minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (no thanks). Hey listen, winter and I are not friends, I hate the bastard.😁

The terror gives us the story of what happens on Captain Franklin’s ill-fated British expedition to the Northwest Passage, what may have happened to 129 officers and men stuck on two ships on ice for years before their demise, there have been stories about this expedition told by the Inuit people of finding evidence of cannibalism (not surprising). So this means that the bones found had cut marks on them — a sign that someone had carved off the flesh.

This is a great historical and horror novel, which has been meticulously researched and brilliantly imagined. I love both these genres, together it’s a truly terrifying ride into darkness. I mean stalked by a huge supernatural being that appears and disappears at will (the men call it the Thing) in the darkness that clearly has no intention of leaving you alone, until well, “ooh, just got some goosebumps there.” I’ll leave it here for you to find out all about this added evil on your own, hehehe.

Captain Crozier comes up on deck to find his ship under attack by celestial ghosts. Above him – above Terror – shimmering folds of light lunge but then quickly withdraw like a colorful arm of aggressive but ultimately uncertain spectres. Ectoplasmic skeletal fingers extend toward the ship, open, prepare to grasp, and pull back.

I truly can’t imagine having to live in sub-zero temperatures for as long as these men had to endure, with little or no food, possibly being poisoned by lead or botulism from the canned food they consumed, and the chance of contracting scurvy (holy hell).

The isolation and depression among these men must have been tremendous, no contact with their family and friends for years at a time. Of course, this was their last expedition, so they never got the chance to see their families again.

Simmons brings this horrific tale of trials and tribulations of an arctic exploration vividly to life in this amazingly written historical, which injects a note of supernatural horror into the 1840s Franklin expedition and its doomed search for the Northwest Passage.

Two ships set out to sail looking for the Northwest Passage in Canada, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror, these ships were well equipped to withstand their journey in finding the Northwest Passage. At the helm of Erebus is Sir John Franklin and for the Terror is Captain Francis Crozier.

Both ships became stuck in the ice in September of 1846, in the icy waters of what is now Nunavut, Canada.

On board the HMS Terror is Captain Crozier, quite a complex character to be sure, he’s deemed an alcoholic, but when you take a closer look, he’s actually one of the most reasonable and realistic men among the crews (Dr. Goodsir as well as a few others). Simmons gives us a bit of a twist on Crozier’s character in that he has psychic abilities.


Captain Francis Crozier – Source: Great Canadian Mysteries in Canadian History

There’s quite an interesting character on board the Terror, an Inuit (Esquimaux). I won’t spoil the introduction of this character here, just know you’ll be intrigued, horrified and disturbed by her story. Crozier thinks of her as the “Lady Silence.”


Sir John Franklin – Source: Royal Museum Greenwich

In a special news report by CBC News Canada: Searching for Franklin – Making history in the Canadian Arctic in 2012 shows us a document that confirmed, all was well and Sir Franklin’s death in 1848.

But guess what, the ships were found a few years ago after 165 years of searching, by Parks Canada. The HMS Erebus was found in 2014 and the Terror was found in September 2016 in Nunavut’s Terror Bay on King William Island, north of where the HMS Erebus was found. Absolutely amazing, if those ships could talk right?

I think this will make you want to go and do some research on a number of things once you’ve read this book because there’s so much interesting historical facts that leave you wanting to know more and about this doomed British expedition.

Well to get your visual fix of the book on screen, take a look at AMC’s The Terror a 10-part television series which premiered on March 26, 2018, it’s quite amazing to see the perilous trials the doomed crew experienced, the brutal and deadly Arctic conditions they endured. AMC takes you on a nightmarish visual journey with these men. The show has been renewed for a second season, looks like it’s going to have even more of the supernatural element added to it, looking forward to watching it.

Season 2, with another 10 episodes is slated to begin in 2019.


AMC’s The Terror – Source: AMC

12 replies »

  1. This sounds completely horrifying! Your writeup of the history of this is amazing – I’m actually surprised anyone would even think to novelize it to make it scarier because it’s already terrifying enough in my opinion as is! I hadn’t heard of the show, definitely going to check it out but in small doses. Incredible review, this one sounds fantastic but like the kind of horror that sticks with you, especially based on true events. Shiver!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your awesome compliments. I thought it was already horrifying too, then the author added more to your imagination of horror. Good idea to watch the show in doses 😃. Thanks so much for reading my review.


  2. Great review! Glad you enjoyed the TV show too, it really immerses the audience in that crushing loneliness beyond the edge of the known world. Love the aura of mystery throughout the book since you never quite know what’s going to happen next. *shudders*

    Liked by 1 person

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