Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Seth Grahame-Smith)

My first thought when I originally saw this on the bookstore shelves back after its original release in 2010 was "Really?? That's pretty funny; I'll have to read that someday." I read Seth Grahame-Smith's well-done parody Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with my English class and enjoyed it. My respect for Grahame-Smith as a writer grew after seeing how closely he mirrored Austen's voice, cadence, and overall writing style, so I began to consider reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a bit sooner. Then I saw the trailer for the Tim Burton produced movie and decided that I had to read the book before seeing the movie, and I'm glad I did.

The tale picks up early in Lincoln's youth, giving a brief but important background of Lincoln's parents, especially his father, and introducing the young Abraham's motivation to hunt and kill vampires after a poignant family tragedy deeply affects him. He later goes on to learn how to survive his own hunts after nearly dying his first true time out. The story goes on to trace Lincoln from general store employee all the way up to his presidency and assassination, with a generous scattering of blood and violence throughout, though in his later years as President, the blood and violence comes from the Civil War.

This book is a fairly fast and fun read. Grahame-Smith has obviously done his research on Lincoln and his life as well as Lincoln's writing style, presenting the story as a biography of Lincoln's life, albeit a biography of Lincoln's "secret, other life" as a vampire hunter. The excerpts from Lincoln's "secret journal" mirror Lincoln's own writing style masterfully, and the tale is a wonderful balance of history, horror and humor. Scattered throughout the book are various illustrations and photographs, with the successful intent to lend an air of verisimilitude to the story (as well as having the effect of being able to plant the tongue a little more firmly into the cheek).

Overall, the book presents a little something for a variety of fans: historical fiction, horror, parody, or alternative history/biography, and Grahame-Smith weaves them all into an entertaining and wonderfully coherent, witty, fast-paced, and at times horrifying, whole. From Grand Central Publishing and available at your local, independent bookstore. (Buy from locally owned, independent makes more a difference than you think!)

NOTE: The trailer below is for the book, not the movie!

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