I first read Fevre Dream in the early eighties and on a recent quest to re-acquire the top ten paperbacks of my youth this novel was top of my list.
When you consider the hype for Twilight and Vampire Diaries and what they have done to change the modern perception of vampires, I must say they have borrowed a lot from this novel. The author, more known for his Game of Thrones adventures delivers a completely fresh take on the vampire genre, with a breathtaking story of friendship, horror, mystery and paddle steamers.
So, we have Abner Marsh; fat, ugly, riverboat captain who has built the finest, fastest steamship to grace the Mississippi. He enters into partnership with Joshua York, a strange pale man but with a barrowload of money that Abner needs to get the steamship afloat.
The Fevre Dream carries cargo for a while, but rumours start about Joshua - he sleeps all day, doesn't eat and has strange companions. Abner has his suspicions, but is not sure what to do - Joshua has become a friend and he still needs the finances.
When Damon Julian is invited into the fold, Abner comes to realise what is good and what is bad, and what is pure evil. The friendship stutters, rekindles, and the emotions run high all through the story.
Set in the 1850s, this is a tale which evokes so much of the time, the hardships and the prejudices. Much can be read into the setting - the Mississippi runs like a huge artery through the Southern states - and the characters are superbly drawn. I thoroughly recommend this novel to everyone, not just horror, mystery and supernatural aficionados.