Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

My girlfriend and I spent last week in Germany (her spring break, my vacation time) globetrotting a bit. We stayed in Munich and Hamburg, took the train around the country and met up with some friends of hers who were able to give us an insider's tour. All-in-all, we had a really good time!

I had a lot of spare time on the trip- three flights each way, plus multiple bus and train rides (multi-hour) gave me plenty of time to read. My latest literary conquest was:

Nope, you read that correctly: Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies dives once again into the realm of historical undead fiction with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

I have to admit: at first, I was very skeptical. How does one take a concept like this and write an ENTIRE book on it? I could only see this concept going as far as a cartoon, maybe an illustration of Lincoln as Simon Belmont, tossing flaming holy water at a wandering mummy. As awesome an illustration that would be, it doesn't strike me as a good concept for a full-length novel.

I was also worried about the style of the novel: How would one attempt to write a novel about Abraham Lincoln killing vampires? From first person? Omniscient-third-person? After all, history about Lincoln is history. How does one manipulate that?

Grahame-Smith solves most of these problems through an ingenious format- the book is prefaced with a short story about Grahame-Smith himself being visited by a modern day vampire who was a colleague of Lincoln's, who delivers a series of Lincoln's secret journals detailing his struggles with the undead throughout his life.

The remainder of the book is presented as an illustration of Lincoln's life in the context of those journals and known history of Lincoln. Most of the book is presented in omniscient third person, with first-person journal entries by Lincoln himself added throughout to give better insights into Lincoln's motivations and struggles.

The result is an enjoyable novel that reads smoothly from cover-to-cover, scenes of thrilling action blending seamlessly with Lincoln's emotional journal entries illustrating a stirring internal conflict; a sense of duty to kill those who feast on the blood of the innocent and the personal torment that such a burden can place on someone.

I enjoyed reading this book very much. So much in fact that I'm tempted to now find a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in hopes that there is also more to it than meets the eye.

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