22. The Terror, by Dan Simmons (2007)
Dan Simmons writes horror fiction for the biggest of history buffs. In what’s become a routine practice for the Hugo Award-winning author, The Terror finds Simmons combining actual researched facts with his own sick, monster-loving imagination. Here, the narrative is centered upon the lost expedition of British Navy officer Captain Sir John Franklin, a nearly 130-man mission that perished in frosty conditions.
As Simmons imagines it, though, Franklin and his crew, along with cannibalism, get preyed upon by a bloodthirsty demon lifted from Eskimo mythology, known as the Tuunbaq. To The Terror’s benefit, the scariest parts don’t even come from the inhuman antagonist—it’s the brutally shocking ways in which Franklin’s men turn on one another that gives this 784-page epic its unnerving potency.