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Fevre Dream

Novel by George R R Martin 1982.

Another classic 1980s vampire novel, this is somewhat different from its myriad competitors. There's no modern day retelling of the myth here, little if anything of Live Girls and The Vampire Tapestry and Vampire Junction and the rest, as George R R Martin set Fevre Dream on the Mississippi between 1857 and 1870. The only influence obvious is that of Anne Rice: where Rice worked with the plantations of New Orleans, Martin works with steamboats on the Mississippi, but local issues aside, the author deserves credit for an original read.

Fevre Dream is a steamboat, one of the biggest and fastest ever to work the lower Mississippi run, built for Captain Abner Marsh with the money of Joshua York, vampire. York wants a mobile base to carry him through the southern states, where he is hoping to find more of his kind: vampires are not plentiful and York has plans for those few left. Standing in York's path is Damon Julian, the oldest and most powerful of the species, a vampire who does not share York's dream.

There are passages that seem to telegraph the plot. There are passages that seem to give everything away. There are passages that promise little more to come. But the higher the page count, the more twists Martin throws in. Every time he suggests everything has been worked out, he sets off down a different course. This masterful technique keeps the reader hooked and guessing all the way to the melodramatic finale. And Martin's flair for the period, for the minutiae of steamboats and abolitionists and river piloting, doesn't detract from the horror which is far from overdone, rather left for the odd scene of tremendous power and tension. What a shame that such talent should produce only one genre novel.

"The subtle atmosphere of menace grows and grows." - Whitley Strieber

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