Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
|Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: An amusing variant on the vampire novel, but one too far removed for fans of the genre to fall in love with.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: April 2010|
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. That quote, on the Statue of Liberty, was probably not designed with the inclusion of vampires in mind. But by some means or another North America is rife with the things – hiding in plain sight, as the older ones can bear sunlight, with the help of darkened glasses. It might just come down to one eager young man to rid his new country of such things, on his way to something he’s a bit more known for.
With the mysterious delivery of Abe Lincoln’s hand-written diaries, covering several decades of life, love and vampire slaying, our author is able to give us an annotated guide to them. It’s a very nice mix of the original script, well-edited, and a dry, academic look at one of the greatest men in American history slaughtering the undead.
Oh? What’s that you say? This is a novel, and the Lincoln diaries here are fiction? Oh. Well, let’s just say they stand as realistic – from the naïve spelling of the early years, through first loves and first rites at the hands of vampires, to a burgeoning (unheralded) career as killer. As an eye to the Americas of the time it works – we even go much further back to the failure of the original Roanoke colonists, and travel around the early states of the Union, ending up in the deep South. This, we might expect, will lead to a parody of Anne Rice, but there’s something else on our author’s mind – slavery.
This is en route to the American Civil War, which of course was so vital for the political career of the sixteenth President, which we also get to cover. The slavery aspect only really serves as an evil occupation for the vampires that Lincoln might be wanting to kill anyway, due to a mysterious gentleman pulling his strings from the background, however. And please don’t complain when I state the opinion that very few people on the side of the pond on which I write this know or care much about the minutiae of the Civil War, and will not find its inclusion here particularly compelling.
But, back to the slavery, and it’s just one example of how there isn’t actually anything completely dark or serious about the contents here, and therein lies a problem. Yes, there are flashes of gore now and again, but this isn’t really, strictly, a vampire novel. Certainly it is so far removed from the norm of the genre, fans restricted to the fantasy action and bloodletting will find this a rum beast indeed. It very much is about a vampire hunter – as the title informs us – and not about vampires.
As for those of us, like me, who adore the unusual, fresh approach to things? Unfortunately, again, this lacks. The sense of humour is on the whole, just that – rather than give us stand-out jokes our author restricts himself mostly to an overarching levity that is welcome, but not sustained enough for us to rate it highly.
At the same time we can see Grahame-Smith having fun, even though we’re just being pleasantly entertained. The tricksiness of his writing is to the fore, from the movie-styled jump out of nightmare into the real world, which is never done as well as it is here (before it ends being overdone), to the overall concept of the American President-to-be having scratched around in brothels and swamplands after a bit of slaughter.
Our author is certainly doing something right, for this is looking like following his debut collaboration, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith in being due a big-budget Hollywood version. But on the page he continues to frustrate – I feel he should be flying into the realms of the Grand Guignol, or the absurd, or at least just the genre tropes he knows to a T – yet continues to subvert too much for us all to have as much fun as we deserve.
It might deserve a higher rating where the pastiche type history of the Civil War would be greater appreciated, but for this British reader, this lacked bite.
I must thank the kind people at Corsair for my review copy.
If you want to stay on the right side of vampire killers, you might prefer to read The New Vampire's Handbook by The Vampire Miles Proctor first. We also offer our Top Ten Books About Vampires.
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