My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is one of those books that’s going to be sold by the cover and title alone.
The cover, featuring the visage of Honest Abe with a blood stains on his famous suit and a bloody axe in one hand is enough to make you take pause, open the cover and wonder what kind of absurdest joys lie within the books pages.
Seth Grahame-Smith, who found ways to skewer the works of Jane Austen by inserting zombies, has an interesting new way to skewer the biography–by inserting vampires. According to the introduction, Grahame-Smith is presented with a series of journals written by the sixteenth president that tell the real story of his life. Apparently, the history books missed that Abraham Lincoln was more than just a statesman, he was an avowed killer of the blood-sucking fiends known as vampires.
The book postulates that the reason so many of Abe’s close friends and family passed away under such mysterious circumstances was due to vampire attack. It’s an interesting premise and one that works fairly well in the early going as we see Abe swear to destroy every vampire in America after finding out his mother died due to a vampire attack, but the premise itself wears a bit thin by the second half of the novel. Grahame-Smith really stretches things when Lincoln discovers a link between vampires and slavery, leading to the reason that Lincoln decides that slavery must be eradicated. Some of the views of the Southern states in the later stages of the book are a bit too much and over the top with Grahame-Smith choosing to ignore certain things in order to go for the humorous effect.
As a satire of biographies, the novel works fairly well, inserting reflections by Lincoln’s journals with prose created in the biographical style of Grahame-Smith. But while the concept is interesting, I couldn’t help but feel the premise became a bit SNL-skit-like the longer the pages kept turning–nice idea but probably a bit too drawn out and rapidly losing its wit the longer things went along.