We hold the history of our country so dear, with names like Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln spoken with a well-deserved reverence even hundreds of years after their lives and deaths. So when a writer wants to fictionalize those men and their lives, it is often met with suspicion and anxiety.
What will a writer do with our heroes? Will it be a shocking or a respectful portrayal of the Fathers and caretakers of our legacy?
In the case of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” it is a little of both and the results are magical. Like so many authors, Seth Grahame-Smith takes an outrageous what if: What if Abe Lincoln was a vampire hunter? He then seamlessly weaves the concept with true events in the president’s life and death. Much of the story is told long before Lincoln’s rise to political prominence. Instead of dying of milk fever, brought on by a toxin in cow’s milk during the time, Lincoln’s mother is murdered by vampires thanks to a debt his father owes. Once young Lincoln realizes this shocking truth, he is compelled to do what he can to avenge her death, leading him down a path of violence and political intrigue.
The young Lincoln is written from the point of view of his journal entries and is likeable despite his building rage toward his circumstances. Only when he meets a sympathetic vampire named Henry Sturgess does that rage begin to manifest itself with more purpose. The future president begins to kill vampires at his friend’s bidding, all part of a plan to keep the monsters from enslaving America. Of course, these actions eventually lead to a presidency, a Civil War, the end of slavery and the death of Lincoln himself.
The book is a tightrope act in some ways. Grahame-Smith must balance between excitement and action and teetering into the ridiculous, where the reader cannot maintain his suspension of disbelief and grows frustrated with the use of a towering, historical figure as a main character in a vampire novel.
I am pleased to report that the author does so very well on the whole. I won’t say there weren’t times when I felt a little uncomfortable with the corruption of history, but those times were few and far between because the writing is so strong, the character of Lincoln so likeable and the tone of the story so respectful to the legacy the man holds in reality.
I would rate the book 4.5 stars as it is an engaging, well-written and massively entertaining ride. I laughed, I gasped, and there was even a moment when I teared up.
With the movie based on it coming out June 22, I look forward to the adaptation that will surely be a big hit.
Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter
By: Seth Grahame-Smith
Rating: 4 1/2-5
Price: $8.99 paperback/$7.99 Kindle & Nook