George R.R. Martin has arguably reached legendary author status with his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was turned into the equally epic TV show, Game of Thrones. But it’s easy to forget that Martin had been writing for decades before ASoIaF. One of his earliest novels is Fevre Dream, a historical/horror novel about vampires waging a turf war on steamboats in the mid-to-late 1800s.
And, yes, it’s as good as it sounds.
Captain Abner Marsh is almost put out of the steamboat business when his dilapidated fleet is destroyed during a harsh winter. When a mysterious aristocrat named Joshua York offers Marsh a partnership—and a brand-new, state-of-the-art sidewheeler—Marsh hesitates just a little before taking York up on his offer. Marsh has high hopes that his new boat will be the fastest on the Mississippi, earning him some lasting fame as a steamboat captain. But Marsh soon learns that York’s offer has many stipulations, and the Mississippi’s darkest secrets aren’t in the water at all.
I loved this book simply because it had an interesting premise that paid off in a big way. Anne Rice fans should be all over this excellent historical novel. The plot has a lot of interesting twists, the characters come to life on the page, and the details of the golden era of Mississippi River steamboats are described so well that I bet even Mark Twain would get a kick out of it. Just be prepared to read the N-word a lot. (I told you the details of the era are solid!) This book proves that George R.R. Martin is an excellent writer, researcher, and—dare I say—historian, no matter the subject or era.