Seth Grahame-Smith,
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
(Grand Central, 2010)

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

We are all familiar with these words and the great man who spoke them, but how much do we really know? In his new novel Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, presents us with an alternate history and a side of our nation's 16th president we never knew.

Much like he did with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Grahame-Smith is able to take a story Americans think they know and change it into something completely new and exciting. The basic premise of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter involves the author being given a stack of very old diaries that once belonged to Lincoln, diaries that have remained hidden for decades. He is tasked with turning these diaries into a book, to spread the truth of Lincoln's struggle as a Hunter and share the true history of the United States of America.

After the death of his mother, young Abraham learns the truth about vampires and vows he will see every vampire in America destroyed. As he grows older and becomes more experienced as a Hunter he learns that the vampire presence in America is stronger, and more influential, than he realized.

This novel isn't just about Abraham Lincoln killing vampires. It completely alters our perception of American history. It sheds light on the mysterious disappearance of the colonists at Roanoke and explains why "Croatoan" was found carved into wood there; the evils of slavery become even darker as Abraham learns that vampires rely on the slave trade for meals that no one will miss and the Civil War is fought not only for slaves' freedom, but for all of America to remain free from vampiric tyranny.

Grahame-Smith completely rewrites our history and is able to blend the fact and fiction together almost seamlessly -- and not only that, but makes it relevant to modern history as well. Anyone who may have worried that Grahame-Smith may have been a one-shot wonder with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, needn't have worried; Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter is completely original and shows that even when left to his own devices, Grahame-Smith is a good writer.

One side-effect of reading this novel that I hadn't anticipated is that I am now more fascinated with our 16th president than I had previously been. I'm curious to read more about the real life of Abraham Lincoln. As is, I know very little about his life aside from what was taught in history so I can't say how accurate the facts Grahame-Smith used are, but I am now interested in doing more reading on Lincoln and learning more about the real man behind the myth Grahame-Smith created. Perhaps more readers will feel the same way, and much like he did with Jane Austen, Grahame-Smith will introduce a whole new audience to one of our nation's most respected presidents.

I highly recommend this book to any sci-fi fan out there, even if you're not into history or historical fiction. I'm not a big fan of historical fiction, but I really enjoyed this novel. I will warn you that this is a book about vampires and Grahame-Smith does not gloss over the violence and gore of all the horrible things vampires do, but as someone who is also not a fan of any kind of gore, that didn't bother me at all. So take some time and get to know the side of Abraham Lincoln history has erased. Grahame-Smith has a very creative imagination and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

review by
Charissa Jelliff

10 April 2010

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