Abner Marsh has had his dearest wish come true - he has built the Fevre Dream, the finest steamship ever to sail the Mississippi. Abner hopes to race the boat some day, but his partner is making it hard for him to realize his ambition. Joshua York put up the money for the Fevre Dream, but now rumours have started about the company he keeps, his odd eating habits and strange hours. As the Dream sails the great river, it leaves in its wake one too many dark tales, until Abner is forced to face down the man who helped to make his dreams become reality.
The thing that caught my attention the first time I saw Fevre Dream on the shelves was the fact that it had steamboats. I was fascinated by steamboats since I was a child so I couldn't really pass up on this opportunity, especially since the book was filed under Horror/Fantasy.
From the start I'll admit to the fact that this is my first George RR Martin book so I didn't know quite what to expect in terms of writing. I know he's famous for the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series but that's about it. I'll just clear this from the start: I'll buy his other books as well.
Fevre Dream is a very rich novel with an amazing cast, deep and complex characters and a superb setting (spanning from New Madrid to New Orleans). And, of course, steamboats. Lots and lots of steamboats, the majority (if not all) being actual steamboats that ran during that period (such as the Robert E. Lee, the Natchez, the Eclipse).
The book is more like an alternative history type of book which doesn't hurt it at all. It mingles vampires (it's not a spoiler, no worries) with actual events and places. And, of course, steamboats (lots and lots!).
The characters are simply extraordinary, even the ones that are not fully fleshed out.
Abner Marsh is especially well created and interesting, along with Joshua York (which provides the books main emotional passages) and Damon Julian (who manages to channel some sort of Cthulhu-like majesty, at least that's what RR Martin's depiction of Damon's ancient evil reminded me of).
Also, the book is extremely well crafted in terms of plot. It never drags out, the pace is even and it keeps you hooked like a vampire to a neck (pun very much intended!). Speaking of vampires, Fevre Dream offers a fresh take on the vampire myth but I won't go into that since it kind of is a major spoiler.
At the end of the day, I'm very pleased with the book and charmed by Abner Marsh's character and very happy with the in-depth portrayal of the steamboat era. It's a must read!