Abraham Lincoln, the “Great Emancipator,” had a side of him that most people never knew about. At least, that’s the premise author Seth Grahame-Smith presents in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Grahame-Smith may be establishing himself as a master of altered history with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The story of our 16th President as an accomplished vampire slayer at first seems laughable, ridiculous even. That is until you begin reading and see how masterfully Grahame-Smith has woven in the true details Lincoln’s life with the fictional account of vampires in the New World.
For history buffs, Grahame-Smith’s narrative in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is interspersed with journal entries from the young vampire hunter Lincoln and facts about the events of his life and the history of the time periods he lived through. Lincoln’s pursuit of the undead comes to life amid facts about the westward expansion and the history of the young United States.
In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Abe first comes into contact with vampires when his mother dies because of a vengeful vamp. This spurs Lincoln’s hatred of vampires and causes him to pursue their ultimate deaths. Abraham is mentored by a vampire who does not agree with the way other vampires are using and killing humans like cattle. Vampires become the bane of Abraham’s existence and his hatred of vampires fuels every decision he makes, even his leap into politics.
Grahame-Smith creates a correlation between vampires in America and the prevalence of slavery with Vampire Hunter. In the story, Abraham discovers that slaveholders provide slaves as food to vampires in exchange for financial favors and even protection, or in some cases, exemption from becoming vampire chow. This atrocity horrifies Lincoln and solidifies his stance against slavery.
Lincoln runs for the Presidency with the backing of Union vampires who see slavery and the growing power of beastial vampires as a cancer in the southern states. Lincoln is seen as the savior – the one man who knows the truth about vampires and has the power, charisma and determination to lead a nation into war and drive the violent vampires out of America.
Lincoln suffers many losses in his life due to vampires: His mother, his son, friends, his peace of mind. Lincoln ultimately loses his life at the hands of a vampire named John Wilkes Booth. That’s not the end of the story though and in the world of altered history, anything can happen and the end of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter seems right and just.
This is not your typical vampire fare and it is so effortlessly told and presented that one has no trouble believing that this is a factual story. It is not presented as campy, cheesy fiction – instead it is a serious story that makes you think, and even suspend reality and disbelief to imagine a Civil War being fought to keep Americans from becoming prey to bloodthirsty vampires.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a great read and one that made its way into my personal library. Seth Grahame-Smith wrote the zombie cult classic Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and with Abraham Lincoln, he has scored well and proven that he doesn’t need a dead writer the likes of Jane Austen to pen a great book.