I admit I may be one of the few people in the country who has yet to read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books or see the movies. Of course I never read any of the Harry Potter books, either, though I've enjoyed several of the movies.
I love vampire tales. I do periodically reread my two classic favorites, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Stephen King's Salem's Lot. I find those two hard to beat.
Then friends in my writer's group recommended George R.R. Martin's Fevre Dream.
When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something’s amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For 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 has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove.
Marsh meant to turn down York’s offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve—coupled with the terrible force of York’s mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare...and mankind’s most impossible dream.
Here is the spellbinding tale of a vampire’s quest to unite his race with humanity, of a garrulous riverman’s dream of immortality, and of the undying legends of the steamboat era and a majestic, ancient river.
"The night air was cool and moist. Their boots sent up echoes as they walked the dark, deserted streets York with a limber grace and Marsh with heavy authority."
At the beginning, some parts seemed familiar, and I thought maybe I'd read this years earlier when it was first published (copyright 1982), which I might have, but I didn't remember the rest of the book so I doubt it. Even if I did, it would still be worth rereading.
Full of beautiful, descriptive writing, it is a true vampire tale of obsession, dedication, overcoming weaknesses, immortality, and more. It is a skillfully written tale showing the vampire as more than a monster, but someone you actually grow to like and root for.
"York looked up, and their eyes met.
"Till the rest of his days were done, Abner Marsh remembered that moment, that first look into the eyes of Joshua York. Whatever thoughts he had had, whatever plans he had made, were sucked up in the maelstrom of York's eyes."
It has its share of blood and gore as you'd expect, and some incredibly sick characters, along with several other people that stay with you. Some of the steamboat background can be slow, but the story sucks you in. It is one of those can't-put-it-down books that you actually enjoy reading. The ending was sad yet poignant and charming, and you almost hate to see the story end. I look forward to reading other books by this amazing author.