Martin paints a vivid picture of late 1850s life on the Mississippi, with all the luxury and bitter competition inherent to the times. However, Abner is just not an engaging protagonist to me. Squat, grizzled, stubborn, cranky, and not particularly open-minded or bright, his lack of sufficiently redeeming qualities left me not particularly inclined to root for him. He's brave and chivalrous a time or two, but it didn't quite make up for the rest. Joshua and the other vampires are interesting, but there are too few revelations to allow the reader to get invested in them. In all, their representation felt stale and unoriginal.
All-in-all, this felt like a vanity project for Martin, with Abner being his own fictional (albeit deliberately unflattering) self-representation. I'm sure this book will appeal to others, but it didn't strike the right notes for me.