Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith ~ A Capsule Review by Allen Kopp
Vampires are definitely “in.” Take, for example, Seth Grahame-Smith’s new novel, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. It’s a skillful and clever mixture of fact and fiction that makes for a fascinating reading experience.
According to this speculative novel, Abe is, throughout his truncated life, a sworn enemy of vampires, in part because his father is in league with them but also because a vampire kills his mother when Abe is but a small boy. His avowed hatred of vampires inspires him to be one of the premiere vampire hunters (and killers) of his day. He kills them with an axe and cuts off their heads. It seems this is the best way to put a vampire out of business.
An encounter with a “good” vampire named Henry results in an unexpected lifelong friendship. Henry is opposed to Southern vampires because they use slaves to satisfy their bloodlust and then kill the slaves. Abe is a fervent opponent of slavery, so a friendship is born. Throughout the book, Henry supplies Abe with the names of vampires who need to be done away with. Abe always complies with these requests of Henry’s, oftentimes at great risk to himself.
When Abe makes the leap from practicing law to entering politics, he rises quickly and unexpectedly (from the Illinois state legislature, to Congress, to the White House). He believes (all ego aside) that he has a mission in life to preserve the Union. He sees the struggle between North and South as a struggle between vampires and non-vampires. If the Southern vampires have their way and win the war (and at times it seems they will win), he believes they will eventually enslave all mankind. For him, there’s much more at stake than preserving the Union and winning the war; he is waging a battle for the soul of mankind.
The concluding chapters are a fascinating look at the events leading up to the assassination of Lincoln by the actor John Wilkes Booth (himself a vampire). Booth believes he will be, by killing Lincoln, the savior of the south, but he is sadly mistaken in this assumption. When he is on the run after the murder, nobody will give him shelter. A Virginia farmer allows him to stay overnight in a warm tobacco barn but turns him in for the reward money.
We see the heartaches that Abe endures throughout his life. In addition to losing his beloved mother, he loses his first sweetheart, Ann Rutledge, and then two of his young sons. He experiences debilitating bouts of depression. Through all his trials, though, he remains committed to his core beliefs: eradicating slavery, relieving America of its vampire population, and keeping the country whole.
For a unique reading experience (probably unlike anything you’ve ever read before) that holds you from the first page to the last and doesn’t let you go, it’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.
Copyright © 2011 by Allen Kopp