Every once in a while a book comes along that truly surprises you. I picked this book up not too long after it was released, more or less on a whim. I have a tendency to enjoy random, over-the-top humor, historical fiction, and horror, so I decided to give it a try. Although I braced myself against bitter disappointment, my caution proved to be gleefully unnecessary because Seth Grahame-Smith did not let me down.
The narrative style is very attractive and interesting, because the entire story is told by a somewhat fictionalized version of Seth-Grahame Smith himself. The chapters are made up out of summaries and direct quotations from Lincoln’s secret diary. Seth Grahame-Smith weaved together real facts and quotes from Lincoln’s life into the fictionalized vampire hunter narrative so well that I am extremely jealous to have not thought of it first.
In all seriousness, if we are honest with ourselves, I think that we can all agree that adding vampire hunting into history can only serve as a vast improvement. Seriously, just look at the book cover. If that does not get the point across, then I have no idea what will!
Honest Abe’s personal vendetta against the vampires (who are responsible for an early childhood trauma) leads him to be trained as a vampire hunter by his mentor, Henry. From this point he embarks on many adventures, normally a mix of reality and fiction, that generally involve disemboweling blood-suckers with his hatchet (+5 to beheading). His quest for personal revenge intersects with the abolitionist movement and is even tied to the Civil War. Edgar Allan Poe even enters the tale at one point, although I believe that his personal acquaintance with Lincoln is purely fictional. Seth Grahame-Smith also addresses Lincoln’s assassination in an extremely interesting manner, which I will not spoil here.
While this book has “entertainment” written all over it, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter does mange to squeeze in some fairly poignant themes relating to personal honor, bravery, racism, and the value of human life. Admittedly, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is probably not the novel of the century, but there is more going on beneath the surface with this tale than first meets the eye.
I imagine that there are still some naysayers out there who think that this sounds like an extremely bizarre and ridiculous concept. To all of you who may be thinking this, please allow me to explain: That is exactly what makes this book so amazing! Any readers who enjoy historical fiction, horror, or outlandish (and primarily dark) humor should give Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a fair chance.
Oh, and one more thing. I want Seth Grahame-Smith to reuse this same exact concept but with Teddy Roosevelt next. Think about it.