Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

(No Series)

Abner Marsh, a struggling riverboat captain, suspects that something’s amiss when he is approached by a wealthy aristocrat with a lucrative offer. The hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet; nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York’s reasons for traversing the powerful Mississippi are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious York’s actions may prove. Not until the maiden voyage of Fevre Dream does Marsh realize that he has joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare—and humankind’s most impossible dream.

“Good and evil are silly lies, nonsense put forth to plague honest sensible men.”

Technology keeps improving but some parts of life and glory will be lost in the process.

Fevre Dream is a beautiful, multi-layered story that stands as a historical drama bordering fantasy and horror. It's more in line with Urban Fantasy because of the vampires that come out of the fog in our current world, the historical setting plays up on the atmosphere of the old steamboats and their glories, and - while not outright horror - there are chills and quietly disturbing scenes delivered in atmospheric misery. A wonderful mixture of genres that refuses to be strictly defined.

I fell in love with the hero of the book, Captain Abner Marsh, a man who lived for his life on the river. I can't say why he was so enamoring; maybe it was his enthusiasm and drive in life to live his dreams. He was suitably flawed, crass, crude, ill-tempered. His appearance was described often as awful and it was clear he'd long ago left aside any illusions of attracting people and living a life as a married man. Instead he married the river and never looked back.

In an end of the year reading survey, one of the questions is to name the favorite characters I discovered in 2015. One of them was Augustus from Lonesome Dove, and one of them was Abner Marsh of Fevre Dream.

The steamboats become characters of their own. I never thought much about them before, but this book brings to mind the joy that must have existed with them once upon a time. They were brought to a sort of life by the men who spent their lives building, dreaming, running, and racing these boats.

George R.R. Martin's writing style charmed me in this haunting tale. The man has a way with words that is as captivating as the magic he reminisces. Slower, sedate pace proves not to be a problem because the words are so gorgeous, the characters rich, the story enchanting.

This isn't the usual vampire tale - no sparkly vampires here, but really no actual vampires as we've known them before anyway. And that is okay, because it wouldn't make sense Martin would give us the typical, overdone fare. Some people only like the cruel, demented, soulless creatures that started with Dracula lore and legend, but this is a refreshing and non-romantic, realistic look at another sort. I enjoy three-dimensional creatures over flat paper creations, so Joshua York fits the bill ideally, but just in case we do also get an insane and twisted enemy for him to stand against and beside.

The ending is sad but inevitable, leaving me with a depressed but contented feel. Bittersweet nostalgia and gripping wrap-up match the tone of the book. Abner starts as a man who has lost his world when his company dwindled, saw the chance to live again - and live he did, but as we all know good things don't last forever.

You would think a book of this length being spent mainly on a boat would have boring lulls, but that wasn't the case at all. I was as entranced with the book as the men who rode these were by the river. There was a dreamy vibe felt when reading it; I could almost smell and picture those foggy nights and riding under that moon he described. Stunning stuff, the feeling comes back as I recall the story for writing this review - it's that lasting.

Recommended as a different adventure into the mind of a fantasy legend.

   Book Quotes:

“How could it end any other way? The beast was greater than they were, a force of nature. The beast was like the river, eternal. It had no doubts, no thoughts, no dreams or plans.”

   Other Vampire Novels:

http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/11/dracula-by-bram-stoker.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/11/drawing-blood-by-richard-finney.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/salems-lot-by-stephen-king_21.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2007/06/voice-of-blood-by-jemiah-jefferson.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-turning-by-jennifer-armintrout.html