In 1845, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror departed England and headed towards the Arctic. Led by Captain Sir John Franklin, the expedition set out on a mission to find the Northwest Passage. Before arriving at their destination, the two ships became stuck in the ice in the Victoria Strait. At some point, all 129 men on the two ships disappeared.
The graves of three crew members who died earlier in the voyage were found three years later, but the remains of the rest of the crewmen were never located. Many theories have been proposed. In the 1980s, a team of scientists suggested that the crew had died of mass pneumonia, tuberculosis, or lead poisoning. Another theory proposed the crew was malnourished and died slowly of starvation. Another popular proposition? The men turned to cannibalism and killed one another. To this day, the fate of the members of the Erebus and the Terror remain a mystery.
In Dan Simmons’s thriller, The Terror, he introduces a very different explanation: A Monster destroyed them all. Simmons’s novel, a fictional retelling of the expedition, features many members of Sir John Franklin’s actual crew. As the tale begins, the ships have been icebound for over a year. The crew members are suffering from harsh conditions and are living in fear of a mysterious killer creature. The less imaginative believe the creature is just a polar bear. The more fearful know that there is some otherworldly creature coming after them.
The chilling tale delves into the failures of the expedition that lead to the horrific conditions that the crew finds themselves in – and the evolution of the vicious beast. Simmons spins a tale that seamlessly intertwines the true history of Franklin’s journey with a terrifying supernatural creature.
Earlier this year, The Terror was adapted for TV by AMC, and the horror-filled show was a huge hit with fans of the book and new viewers. The show has been renewed for a second season, set to premiere in 2019.
Click here to read an excerpt of The Terror, and then download the book.
This post originally appeared on The Lineup.
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Featured still from 'The Terror' via AMC