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Tuesday, 2 February 2010


I'm not the biggest fan of vampires, I have to admit. I've always found them a bit, well, boring. Add to that the fact they're the 'go-to' monster for a quick easy villain and they end up being overused as well.

But then something strange happened. I watched True Blood and found myself interested in vampires. Maybe it was the sex, or the violence, or the Southern accents, but something in that show piqued my interest. I think it was probably the sex. Ah ha!

True Blood was a bit of an anomoly, though. I gave the first Twilight film a go and enjoyed it for about 30 minutes, then got severely bored, once again. Is there nothing involving vampires I'd like?

Yes. Yes there is. And it's a book.

FEVRE DREAM by George R R Martin, to be precise.

It's not giving anything away to reveal that the antagonists are vampires (or rather vampire-like creatures) since you find out within the first 30 pages. They share some weakness (and strengths) with old-fashioned vampires, but are presented as more of an actual different species, one that *could* be viewed as the flipside to the coin of humanity. And as such, it makes for a refreshing change from Anne Rice's sexy aristocrats (even though the book is from 1982, so not so 'fresh'...).

Abner Marsh is a steamboat captain, plying his trade up and down the Mississippi in the mid-1800's. Unfortunately, his finances and reputation have taken a knock after a personal/business mishap, and all Marsh wants is to get back on his feet. Enter Joshua York, a mysterious and vaguely sinister dandy. He knows all about Marsh's rep and history, but that doesn't stop him from asking to become his business partner, with a 50-50 split on everything. Marsh is at both suspicious and intrigued, but gets won over when York says "I'll pay for you to build a brand new boat". Lo, the Fevre Dream is born!

Marsh has an eye on racing his massive, fancy new steamer against a rival boat, but first he needs to build his reputation back up...unfortunately, York's peculiar sleeping habits and mysterious unscheduled stops along trade routes are giving the Fevre Dream exactly the sort of reputation Marsh does *not* want.

What is York, and what is his link to the equally sinister Damon Julian, whose followed in alternating chapters? The answer is surprising, and not like anything you'd normally associate with or find in vampire fiction.

FEVRE DREAM is full of character, both in its cast and prose, and right from the first page draws you into its world with excellent historical detail, tempered with an edge of folklore and, I guess, Southern Gothic charm. I also cried a bit at the end, becauseit all felt so...unfair.


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