SPIDERS’ STORYBOOK SCRUTINIES : “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame-Smith
If you’re reading this review, you either know what this is or were curious. To me, with this and his other books Seth Grahame-Smith has done what internet denizens have been dreaming about for ages – create real and workable mash-ups of stuff we know and love, and with the success of this book and it’s predecessor (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) the expectation has been met and exploded.
That last part is highly relevant because on the face of it this is the stuff of parody, of satire and of over-the-top cheesiness – just look at the name, it smacks of gimmicky goodness!
But that said, the final product is nothing short of astounding. I went into this book with as open a mind as possible, expecting a multitude of possiblities, but what I found shocked me even more. This is a good book. No, correction, it’s a great book. Kudos without a doubt to Mr. Grahame-Smith for creating something truly unique and landmark.
If it’s not obvious enough (and assuming you haven’t seen the super-hyped movie either), the book creates a whole new take on the famous U.S presidents life, adding in a hidden aspect of his life and backstory. It effortlessly ducks and dodges around the harsh and fixated views of such historical figures and beautifully merges the fictional with the fact as the writer weaves the story of a Vampire Hunter into an account of Lincolns life. What struck me first and foremost – and in fact really drew me into the book – was the lack of comedy. Not to say there are no lighter moments in the book, but this adventure, this saga is told in all earnestness, as if it were a true account of Abe’s hidden journals having been brought to life by our fictional narrator from the prologue chapter of the book.
We follow his journey starting from his early years when he was a nice, normal boy all the way till his end at the hands of the infamous John Wilkes Booth and it is an enticing, epic and highly engaging tale told by a writer I’m happy to say has a masterful command of his craft. Expertly tying in Vampires into American history and Abe’s life, Grahame-Smith paints a vivid picture of a pre-Civil War America that is teetering on the bring of internal war and tensions are heightened painfully. In the midst of all this we follow the trials and travails of our hero as he engages in Vampire Hunting at a young age after his mother is taken from him and eventually becomes a legend (of sorts) amongst those in the know about certain dark matters.
The character building is excellent for Abe himself as well as for most of the other characters (both real and fictional) in the book, though there are a few that could have done with more development but as they are, are minor enough that it does not really take away from the story. In addition, the flow of the story from start to finish is pretty solid and has a nice organic and very “real” feel to it, something that makes it all the more compelling a read.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to sampling his other works. Infinitely superior to the movie – the screenplay for which was also written by Grahame-Smith but I think they all gave in to the very cliches, over-the-top and cheesiness that the book so skillfully avoided.
If you must experience the goodness that mashup can deliver, this is a book I’d highly recommend – now if we could only get a “Teddy Roosevelt, Werewolf Slayer” or a “Mahatma Gandhi, Zombie Hunter” to be in the works, I’d be happy!
My rating: 4 of 5 stars