Please, please, PLEASE let this vampire craze be on its way out. Please. Enough is enough – I knew when vampires started sparkling that something was amiss, but the juxtaposition of our 16th president into a vampire-ridden novel certainly takes the cake. Not that the novel is completely without merit – come on, who can resist the mere image of honest Abe wielding an axe to destroy some vampire scum – but Seth Grahame-Smith leaves a lot to be desired here, and instead of creating something really innovative, the novel comes across as a weak attempt to cling to the coattails of a dying literary and cinematic trend.
The novel chronicles Lincoln’s rise to the presidency as a means of defeating vampire rule in America. Through a series of journal entries, we learn that Abe’s mother was murdered by a vampire. From that moment on, he vows to dedicate his live to the destruction of these beings. After spending most of his adolescence becoming pretty darn handy with an axe, he befriends a self-proclaimed “good” vampire, Henry Sturges. Sturges knows which vampires are trouble, and for what feels like hundreds of pages, he provides Lincoln with the names of some prominent undead figures that deserve a date with the axe. In the meantime, Abe attempts to live a quasi-normal life. However, as he is constantly pissing off the undead, he finds it difficult to maintain normalcy and falls victim to multiple tragedies caused by revenge-seeking vampires.
Ultimately, Lincoln becomes an abolitionist when it comes to light that the only way to defeat the rise of vampires in America is to abolish slavery. Vampires are flocking to the US to buy slaves – why waist time hunting for humans when a snack can be so easily purchased in good old America? Grahame-Smith then proceeds to rush through what should have been the best part of the novel. While the bulk of the book focusses on the president’s upbringing and pre-political years, relatively little time is spent on Lincoln’s time in office, or on the war that defined his status in this country.
While vampires are becoming chronically overdone in pop culture at this point in time, I started Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter with high expectations – I sincerely hoped for the best. I didn’t get the best. The novel started out strong but shortly after the halfway point it fizzled. The writing style became unbearably aggravating – it’s meant to be an epistolary novel told through Lincoln’s journal entries, yet the prose slips in and out of first person perspective, making the overall feel very choppy and annoying. Moreover, I constantly found my mind wandering to the historical Abraham Lincoln and trying to figure out which of the details might actually have some basis in fact. Did Grahame-Smith completely fabricate Lincoln’s friendship with Edgar Allan Poe, or did the two actually know each other? Did Lincoln really endure such an upbringing – minus the vampires? If anything, I now want to read a real book about Lincoln; I’m not sure this was Grahame-Smith’s intent, but it’s something.
I don’t want to spoil the ending – ok, yes I do. I’ll save you several hours of your life; John Wilkes Booth is an angry vampire, which is his motivation for murdering renowned vampire hunter Abe Lincoln. But imagine what happens when your bff is good-guy vampire Henry Sturges. Yup – honest Abe is all vampire-fied. Maybe it’s just me, but this conclusion seems counter-productive to Lincoln’s efforts throughout the entirety of the novel. After struggling to overcome humanity’s slavery to vampires, in the end Lincoln becomes one (and doesn’t seem upset by it). I think your fifteen minutes should be about up by now, Mr. Grahame-Smith. I don’t know what kind of crap you’re cooking up next, but I won’t be reading it, even if Tim Burton gets involved with the film.