|Ice + History + Monsters = Awesome|
Anyway, today's book is The Terror, by Dan Simmons. I first read Mr. Simmons way back in high school, when a friend turned me on to Hyperion. (Awesome sci-fi book that was a bit over my head when I first read it. I need to get back to that now that I'm old and shit.) I hadn't read any Simmons since, but then I found The Terror on a shelf at Third Place Books* here in Seattle and bought it because one of the clerks had written a review that made it sound awesome. And you know what? It IS awesome.
* If you like books and live in Seattle, you must go to the Third Place Books on 65th. They have a pub in the basement. We call it the Hobbit Hole because it's all made of wood and cozy and you're surrounded by books and nice people and beer.
Anyway, The Terror isn't a sci-fi book. It's actually a dense historical fiction novel about two English ships searching for the Northwest Passage in the mid-1800s. Said ships end up getting stuck in the ice for a very, very, very long time, and after a while the crew begins to suffer all the usual lost at sea horrors: starvation, poisoning, turning on each other, etc. ...Oh, and did I mention that there's also a monster out on the ice that starts killing off crew members in the most horrific ways possible? Because, yeah. Giant scary monster.
The Terror is unlike any book I've ever read. On one hand, it's a gripping historical drama that Mr. Simmons clearly researched the hell out of. And on the other hand, it's a fantastic horror story. How he manages to smash these two things together and keep the pace up for 800 pages is beyond me, but my god, does he ever do it well.
So anyway, yes. The Terror. If you like historical fiction, horror fiction, or just a writer who is really at the top of his craft, I can't recommend this book strongly enough.