Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Shortest book synopsis ever, if you don’t count this sentence, which you can’t. Abraham Lincoln is a vampire hunter! There, all done.

I really liked this book. The most absurd thing about it is the premise, and I found myself  reacting to the fact that I was indeed reading a book about Abraham Lincoln as the Buffy of his time. That is a little bit disconcerting, but when I  put that aside I was  really being treated to a biography of Abraham Lincoln which cleverly uses vampires as an overarching metaphor of the slippery slope involved once any group of people decides that they should enslave others.

If Grahame-Smith ever wants to become a historian, then I am pretty sure he will be able to find the work that he desires. After a very clever set-up that left me chuckling, the book read like a history of Abraham Lincoln- spending time on his childhood, the host of ways that he made money , his law practice , and his forays into government leading up to the presidency.  Lincoln’s vampire hunting is woven into the plot of his life, making use of  issues that heavily attributed to the shaping of his character such as the death of his mother, his estrangement from his father, the loss of his first sweetheart, and recurring bouts with depression. All are linked in surprising ways to his choice of career as a vampire hunter.

Grahame-Smith doesn’t ignore the history of the times, and he does tackle the origins of Lincoln’s personal views on slavery- likely stemming in part from the beliefs of his religious father. Lincoln is often troubled by the presence of slaves in his life, but mostly accepts it until escalating situations lead him to become more involved.  The “league of vampires” dynamic was very interesting to me as the author related the bloodsucking vampires and their unnatural needs to the similarly draining institution of slavery and its inherent threat to the fabric of the nation and all free people.

This is an action based book even though it heavily draws from Lincoln’s journal and other period references. I was introduced to lots of names and faces of the people populating Lincoln’s life but there was little in the way of character development beyond the facts of the circumstances. Toward the end of the book I did start to tire a bit of the vampire references if only because I was so involved with the history, and some of the vampire episodes made very awkward placements in terms of how they connected to history- but they did make me think, and I was on the whole entertained and captured by this book all the way through. Recommended.

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