New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

With so many good books, movies, and more being released all the time, it can be hard to determine what to check out next. Every week, I offer a run-down of significant releases available here at the library.

Visit our online card catalog at juniata.sparkpa.org to search today or call 717-436-6378 to have a helpful library staff member assist you.

The Terror by Dan Simmons

Now a TV show on AMC, The Terror is a horror novel based on an ill-fated 19th-century polar expedition.

Simmons tells the story through the eyes of several characters, including the expedition’s leader, Sir John Franklin, co-commander Captain Francis Crozier and the ship’s surgeon Harry Goodsir. The author jumbles the chronological sequence, beginning in October 1847 with Terror (one of the expedition’s two ships; the other was Erebus) trapped in the ice north of Canada, where they have come in search of the Northwest Passage. The initial scene immediately introduces the novel’s main supernatural element: a giant bear-like entity (known as Tuunbaq, translated from Russian as spirit or “the thing”) that preys on the explorers and appears invulnerable to their weapons. The expedition is in enough trouble without this hostile being’s attention. Food is short, thanks in part to improperly prepared canned goods; the ships have been frozen in thick sea ice for two consecutive winters; many of the crew show signs of scurvy; and temperatures have been consistently 50 or more degrees below zero. Overly confident and hopeful Franklin has disobeyed orders to leave behind messages detailing his movements, so rescue expeditions have no idea where to search for him. Crozier, for his part, is a chronic drunk, stealing whiskey from Erebus, although it doesn’t seem to affect his command of his ship and men. Simmons convincingly renders both period details and the nuts and bolts of polar exploration as his narrative moves back and forth in time to show the expedition’s launch in 1845 and its early days in the Arctic.

I found this book to be a fascinating study of how people act under extraordinary pressure, both from without and within. The men wish to honor their country and posterity but struggle to trust one another. There are additional glimpses into the human psyche from peripheral characters on board, including marines to arm and protect and menial workers below deck.

Tension builds as the men struggle to survive: The thing is a constant menace, and deaths continue to mount because of brutal Arctic conditions. Tightly written and nearly 800 pages, The Terror seamlessly injects supernatural elements as the plot is resolved in a surprising yet highly effective manner. You will get used to nautical terminology quick.

You can find this book in the Adult Fiction section.

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Bookshots…Here are some quick recommendations and star ratings I give them.

≤Percy Jackson and the Olympians the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (5 stars)

≤From Broken Glass: My Story of Finding Hope in Hitler’s Death Camps to Inspire a New Generation by Steve Ross (5 stars)

≤Texas Ranger by James Patterson (4 stars)

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.

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