“Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame-Smith

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The story behind me getting this book is actually kind of funny. Back when the movie came out (yes, that horrible thing), there was a friend of mine who used to go to every horror movie with me so naturally Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter was a thing we had to go see. Not going to lie, I came out of the movie spitting mad. It felt like they had written two completely different movies, threw the scripts together, and whatever stuck together became the movie (in fact, I think Batman V Superman was made the same way). So, following that, for my birthday, my friend bought me the book.

It was a gift looked at with both horror and amusement.

The book has been on my shelf for roughly 5 years. Unopened. Glared at. Considered. But in the end, left alone and unread.

Until just this past weekend. I finished up Nightseer and was looking for something else to read before I jump into the next Cassandra Clare or Nora Roberts book that I have borrowed, and my eyes fell upon this book. I hummed and hawed, and decided, why the hell not?

To my surprise, it’s actually a damn good book!

Being Canadian, I don’t have a really good grasp of American politics, and a spotty memory of American History (I excelled at art and English, not history). Even with my bare knowledge, I have a feeling Lincoln being a Vampire Hunter is fiction. Just saying. But even though there is a lot of fiction throughout the book, I think a fair bit of it is threaded with Lincoln’s actual life. If it is, he was a remarkable man, enough that I am kind of curious to pick up a biography on him. That’s saying a lot because I hate non-fiction.

Now, before I get too far ahead of myself, the way the book is written, and the way it opens, actually makes the book more interesting. Grahame-Smith is writing as if HE was approached by a Vampire and given a series of journals written by Abraham Lincoln himself, and told to write a book. At first I figured it was a sort of “interview with the vampire” kind of set up, which is interesting in itself. It more or less puts meaning behind the book being written, and adds a different element to it. It wasn’t until the end of the prologue that you see it signed BY Seth Grahame-Smith. I had a moment of panic, thinking it was going to be an author insertion like Clive Cussler, and bring the book down.

Once again, I was wrong. The book is written in an odd narrative with journal excerpts thrown in. Where paraphrasing is the best, Grahame-Smith’s words are used, but where Lincoln tells it best, the book is written as a “journal clipping”. I find this style doesn’t draw away from the story like I was afraid it would. Sometimes I have to re-read because I forget who is talking at the moment, but with the way it’s done it gives you the extra details in spots that are needed, and the briefness when you don’t need to know about a years worth of nothing happening.

The story starts when Lincoln was a child, and carries on through his entire life. That sounds like it would be boring, and I think in a regular biography, it would be dry as dust, but with the supernatural element threaded though, it keeps it interesting. Lincoln finds out about Vampires as a child, after his mother dies of mysterious circumstances, and his father, in a drunken stupor, tells Lincoln the truth. Lincoln’s grandfather was killed by a Vampire, not a pack if “Indians” like his father described, and his mother’s death wasn’t mysterious, it was caused by the ingestion of a small amount of Vampire blood. The price for Lincoln Sr. not paying back his debts. From then on Lincoln swore to rid America of Vampires.

When he is older, he uses looking for work, and the odd jobs he procures to hunt Vampires. The way Grahame-Smith blends the fantastical with historical actually works! It didn’t feel like two separate stories haphazardly thrown together, it felt like it could be true.

Even when Lincoln started to run for office and tried to get away from Vampire hunting, the story didn’t feel thrown together (this is really where the movie fell apart). It’s an interesting and fun look at American History, and Abraham Lincoln. Like I said, Vampire Hunting aside, if this book has any accuracy into the life he led, Lincoln was an incredible man.

I never thought I would be recommending this book, but I am. It’s actually really interesting.

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