Review: Fevre Dream

Fevre DreamFevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fevre Dream is a poignant story about two men learning the value of friendship and trust. Oh, and it has vampires and steamboats.

I’ve read a lot of vampire books these past few years, some good, some bad, and Fevre Dream definitely belongs in the good category. No, there aren’t any sparkling, angsty, vampire love interests. Just blood-thirsty vampires, dilapidated plantations, and a lot of adventures on steamboats.

The story starts off with a steamboat captain who inadvertently agrees to a business partnership with a mysterious man with lots of money and an odd night-time schedule. If I were to just talk about the plot, Fevre Dream would be a pretty mundane vampire book. Luckily, the era and location that the story takes place picks up the slack and makes it a rich, enjoyable read.

I started this book because I’m a fan of George R. R. Martin, but I can see people who haven’t read his fantasy works enjoying this as well. I’ve seen this book categorized as horror and there are some fairly bloody scenes, but nothing that made me afraid to turn off the lights at night.

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Ring (the novel, not the movie)

51hcxh9tmel_sl160_The best way to enjoy Ring by Koji Suzuki is to not watch the movie (the Japanese one or the American remake) and not know anything about it.  I’m jealous of people who can come to the novel with a fresh mind like that.   For the rest of us, the novel is still good, but there’s no sense of “aha!” once the plot unfolds.

The book starts off with the death of four teenagers, seemingly unrelated other than having died at exactly the same time and from the exact same thing: sudden heart failure. From that starting point, Suzuki writes an evenly paced mystery that’s part detective novel and part supernatural fiction.

Unlike the movies, the novel Ring is more mystery than jump-out-of-your-seat horror.  But that doesn’t make it any less scary.  I made the mistake of reading this before bed several nights and while I wasn’t that scared whlie reading it, more than once I woke up in the middle of the night and felt fear.  One night, I woke up, looked at the BF sleeping next to me and for some reason I thought he was dead.

In addition to the mystery, there’s a lot of Japanese culture and traditions in the book. The translator balances having the book feel Japanese without making it feel too foreign to non-Japanese readers.  In other words, it reads like something that happened in Japan but could also happen in any other country.

The book explains a few things that the movies gloss over and while the main plot is the same, there are small differences and even a few surprises.  It may not be for someone who wants to read a written version of the movie, but I enjoyed it for the background it gave as well as for more insight into the detective character and other character motives.