(Titan Books, �14.99)

BEFORE True Blood, Buffy and Twilight, fantasy novelist George RR Martin crafted an epic tale of feuding vampire clans battling for control of the Mississippi in the pre-Civil War era, when steamboats raced for the accolade of fastest vessel on the river.

Steamboat company owner Abner Marsh is approached with an offer he can’t refuse from the mysterious Joshua York – partnership of the opulent and incredible Fevre Dream, perhaps the greatest craft the river has ever seen – but the deal comes with certain unusual conditions.

After suspicions are raised by York and his companions’ nocturnal lifestyles, Abner investigates his quarters, only to discover scrapbooks filled with details of various unexplained deaths. Confronted with this evidence, Joshua initially claims he and his associates are vampire hunters, tracking down nosferatu working the Mississippi, but he eventually confesses that they are actually bloodsuckers themselves, an off-shoot of humanity blessed with longevity, remarkable strength and prowess, but cursed with the thirst for living blood and an inability to walk in sunlight.

York has developed a “cure” for the red thirst which prevents the need to drink the blood of human victims, and hopes to herald a new era for vampirekind free of their addictions.

But his actions are challenged by the ruthless Damon Julian, leader of a rival clan of vampires, who wants control of the Fevre Dream for his own nefarious purposes…

The antebellum era perfectly suits the themes of the narrative, which contrast the vampires’ sentiments towards humanity with the attitudes of the slavers operating in Louisiana at this time, and the steamboat setting is quite unlike anything seen in any major genre work before or since.

Daniel Abraham does a first rate job of adapting Martin’s original novel, allowing the sumptuous artwork of Rafa Lopez tell the tale instead of packing it with prose, with a decent pacing that keeps the story rolling along nicely.

I first read Fevre Dream back in the ‘eighties, and never thought to see the story in graphic novel form, let alone to the high standard of this adaptation. Highly recommended.