Fevre Dream

Fevre Dream staff review

by Ryan Banks, Adult Services

Are you a fan of “A Song of Ice and Fire” and eagerly anticipating the long awaited sixth volume, “Winds of Winter”? The bad news is that fans have been waiting over a decade for the next installment of Martin’s magnum opus and can expect to wait years longer. The good news is that Martin was a well-established author prior to introducing us to the noble houses of Westeros and their struggle for the Seven Kingdoms. He’s been selling short stories since 1970 and has published several science fiction and horror novels prior to his skyrocket to literary fame. That’s where “Fevre Dream” comes in.

Abner Marsh is a down on his luck riverboat captain in 1857 who attracts the attention of a wealthy benefactor. Joshua York, the enigmatic and odd benefactor, wants to travel the Mississippi River in pursuit of a private agenda. But he would like to do this as a riverboat captain, not as a passenger. York will provide the substantial amount of gold necessary to construct a large new luxury riverboat, which they will co-captain. Captain Marsh will pilot the vessel and York will issue orders that Marsh will be expected to obey without question. Marsh finds this offer too good to be true, but when he sees the first strongbox full of gold, he succumbs to York’s promises of vast riches to come. The truth is he needs the money and who is he to begrudge a fellow traveler some eccentricities?

Thus a partnership is born. Captain Marsh supervises and York finances the building of the beautiful and opulent vessel, the ‘Fevre Dream.’ Then the men begin their travels up and down the Mississippi, making a pretty profit from carrying passengers and cargo along the way. At first it seems York is simply along for the ride, enjoying the majestic river. Though it is odd that Captain Marsh only sees York on deck at night. And then come the strange orders to dock at seedy river towns where York disembarks to pursue his strange agenda. Later, York’s friends come aboard—similarly dark and mysterious strangers who appear to share York’s secrets and nocturnal habits.

Modern readers can probably guess where this is going. For a period of time not long ago vampire stories saturated the literary market and were often as predictable as they were bland. In 1982, however, when “Fevre Dream” was first published, vampires didn’t sparkle in the sun or wax melodramatic about the weight of immortality upon their dark souls. Often described as Bram Stoker meets Mark Twain, this novel was strongly influenced by Martin’s time in Dubuque. Expect Martin’s vampires to be a bit more bloodthirsty than Bella’s beau. This story is also anything but predictable, and will keep readers guessing through the shocking denouement.

If you’re into steamboats and/or vampires, copies of “Fevre Dream” are available for check out from the first floor circulation desk for those who sign up to join our book discussion on Tuesday, May 10, from 6-7 p.m. REGISTER NOW. Don’t worry, we won’t bite.

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