Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Title: Fevre Dream
Author: George R.R. Martin
Genre: Vampire, horror
Release: 1982
Content warnings: violence, slavery, gore, racism, assault, offensive language (i.e. n-word)
Blurb (Goodreads): Abner Marsh, a struggling riverboat captain, suspects that something’s amiss when he is approached by a wealthy aristocrat with a lucrative offer. The hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua 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’s reasons for traversing the powerful Mississippi are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious York’s actions may prove. Not until the maiden voyage of Fevre Dream does Marsh realize that he has joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare—and humankind’s most impossible dream.

5 out of 5 topazes

I understand the cover is ugly, but please ignore it because it does not give this story justice. And when I say “story,” I mean a goddamn journey because I feel like I have aged twenty years after reading this book. 

I’ve been anxious about a book before – anxious to see what the characters would do, how the story would end. But I haven’t been worried about the characters in a very long time. Fevre Dream made me genuinely have heart palpitations and sweaty palms because everything and everyone made me so nervous. 

And that’s not just because of the narrative itself. The characters of Fevre Dream enliven this story; they are so colorful and memorable, even the gross ones. There are a lot of deaths as you can expect from a vampire book, and each one made me feel some type of way. I loved Abner Marsh and Joshua York separately but especially together because they are the best buds I never knew I wanted. And that ending: guh, my heart. 

I think part of the reason why the characters are as good as they are is because George R.R. Martin makes the “vampire” wholly unique. Now, I’ll be honest: I wondered just how unique they would be – there are tens of hundreds of vampire books out there these days, and it’s hard to make the trope seem brand new. And while Martin doesn’t reinvent the vampire itself, he does give them a startling humanity and therefore, a complexity, that I had thirsted for – no pun intended – in all my vampire books. 

Moreover, I must give credit to the narrative because while the characters are strong, the narrative – the backdrop of it – is vivid as well. We are taken back to American pre-slavery times, down in the good ole South. Not only that but there are also steamers, so we are also out on the sea! Vampires out on the sea – have you ever imagined that? Because we experience slavery at this time, there arises an interesting parallel between the narration and the historical background: one that is humans vs. vampires, and another that is humans vs. humans or more specifically, white people vs. black people. Martin expertly weaves in both to create a hefty but engrossing historical paranormal book that both teaches and makes you emotional. 

Most of this book takes place in the time it does, but it also has parts where the characters just tell you what happened. Therefore, sometimes, Fevre Dream reads like telling than showing. However, for this book, telling worked. Really. Fortunately, too, when Martin does show, he shows. One more thing, because this book takes place in the antebellum era, as a disclaimer, you will come across many derogatory words, especially the n-word. 

Fevre Dream is my first book by George R.R. Martin, and I freaking loved it. Thanks to him, I’ve been craving more ’80s vampire novels, and I already got a list that I cannot wait to go through. Even with all that said, however, I think I’ll stay away from his fantasy books – after what happened in Fevre Dream, I’m not sure if I can brave any and all that happens in A Song of Ice and Fire

Read: 12/16/20 – 12/20/20

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