Friday, October 9, 2015

Top 20 Horror Novels - #17) The Terror by Dan Simmons (from 2007)

Not only am I ranking my Top 20 Horror Movies for you this October, but I'm doing likewise with the scary books that I hold near and dear.  As with the movies that I'm discussing in that Top 20, I'm not attempting to rank these novels based on their place in pop culture, but rather their place in my heart.  Isn't that sweet?  Seriously, there are some fine books that didn't make the cut here because there just wasn't room, and there are definitely some well-regarded books that didn't make the cut because I don't really like them.  That also means there are some personal favorites of mine on this list that you may not have heard of.  If that's the case, I promise that I'll reward your trust with a gnarly tale if you give one of them a spin.  Finally, I may have shortchanged some of the titans in the genre (hey there, Stephen King) as I didn't want to overload this list with titles by the same author, though Uncle Stevie did manage to score three direct hits on my list.

The list thus far:

#20) Amok by George Fox (from 1980) 
#19) Manstopper by Douglas Borton (from 1988)
#18) Intensity by Dean Koontz (from 1995)

Top 20 Horror Novels - #17) The Terror by Dan Simmons (from 2007)

Dan Simmons makes my list with this highly fictionalized account of John Franklin's attempt to force the Northwest Passage in 1845.  The disappearance of Franklin's crew remains a mystery, and here Simmons offers up a grim and truly terrifying explanation that is guaranteed to send shivers racing down your spine.  The main character is not John Franklin, captain of the HMS Erebus and the leader of the expedition, but rather Francis Crozier.  Crozier is the captain of the HMS Terror, the ship that accompanied Franklin on his doomed mission.  This engaging protagonist has been rejected by the woman he loves, so he promptly turns his attention to adventure in the Arctic.  Suffice it to say that he gets a lot more than he bargained for.  After Franklin perishes, Crozier is placed in charge of the expedition.  Unusually harsh weather leads to the men of the Eremus and the Terror being stranded in the ice, where they must deal with a dwindling food supply and the brutal cold.  Making matters worse, a vicious and highly intelligent monster is stalking them, and thus Crozier finds himself at odds with supernatural terror, the threat of starvation, hypothermia, and mutiny.  The Terror is rather bleak and some may not enjoy this strange combination of historical fiction and monstrous mayhem.  At the same time, it is exciting and thoroughly engrossing, and I had a great time with this book.  It may not be for the faint of heart, but for those who enjoy a horrific yarn about a dire struggle for survival in the most difficult of conditions, it may be hard to top The Terror.

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