In the brief author interview that follows the conclusion of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”, Seth Grahame-Smith relates that he got the idea for this book by going into bookstores in 2008. At that time, historians were gearing up to commemorate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth and of course there was “Twilight” fever. Everywhere he looked were books about Lincoln and books about vampires. Lincoln and vampires… Lincoln… vampires… – hey, I got an idea!
Now, I’m usually not one for “gimmick” books and I have not read Grahame-Smith’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, which I know spawned a torrent of similar classics-into-horror knock-offs. But after Budd’s positive review the other month, I had this book in the back of my mind when I was thinking about downloading an audiobook to listen to during my daily commute.
I have to say that this book was a lot of fun. The premise is pretty clearly spelled out in its title and the fun conceit of it that Lincoln – probably the American with the most studied and examined life in history – had a secret life as a vampire hunter (vampires in America were enjoying a bit of a heyday in the first half of the 19th century as it turns out).
Primarily, the book reads (what verb do you use here for an audiobook? “The book is presented?” anyway…) as a biography derived from Lincoln’s heretofore unknown private journal. With surprising depth and cleverness, Grahame-Smith interweaves the vampire yarn into the fabric of Lincoln’s life (and American history) – from his youth, through his adulthood and even to his Presidency and the Civil War. In fact, most of the book could be described as non-fiction, which is a weird thing to say. Real people, real events are all re-interpreted and re-presented. I couldn’t help but smile at the ingenuity of it all. It’s not all played for wry smiles though; there are definitely some parts in there that give a few chills and are not for the squeamish. And somewhere in there, I started to really like this Lincoln. I was rooting for him, even though you sort of know how it’s going to turn out on April 14-15, 1865.
Yes, this book is a lark, and I’m really not going to line up to read (or listen to) all the knock-offs, but if you want to take a stab at this mini-genre, this one is pretty fun.