Saturday, April 21, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

“Without death,' he answered, 'life is meaningless. It is a story that can never be told. A song that can never be sung. For how would one finish it?”
-Seth Grahame-Smith, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Whatever I was expecting from this book (which honestly wasn't a whole lot), I received 3,000% percent more than I thought possible (and that really isn't exaggeration).

What I thought would be a silly re-imagining of some aspects of a past president's life instead became a socio-political and philosophical commentary on the past and the present.

Talk about something you can really sink your teeth into.


Upon finishing the book, I attempted to broach the subject with some of my friends, who either didn't get it or disapproved upon hearing the title. (Which is entirely fair -- I get why some people will not enjoy this book) The thing that seemed to upset them was that the title led them to believe that the president was not being properly respected. As in, the book was making light of President Lincoln's life and experience.

All I can say is, "Not so!" Instead, this story is a post-modern attempt to recognize that President Lincoln was a strong and heroic character, a light in one of the darkest periods of our history, and who, frankly, was a badass.

The post-modern shift has led to an almost universal belief that there is no absolute truth (and therefore nothing is sacred). History? Written by people with a bias -- those who won, and those who lost. Therefore, we can change it to something more endurable -- we can revive a man who was assassinated for (among other things) his fight against inequality.

While being half historically accurate, AL:VH relies on the fantastic to give a purpose behind Lincoln's political agenda. His stance on slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation and even his physique are (at least in this story) all for one purpose: to rid America of vampires.

The vehicle of vampirism brings about an entirely different side of slavery. Are we blame-shifting in order to deal with our past?

Or is the author, instead of blame-shifting, interested in pointing out just how much blood and sweat we poured out in order to satisfy our economic cravings? After all, if we can't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

While the book is highly entertaining, there is also a seriousness to it. The facts of Lincoln's life are put plainly here. He was a man of little education, who rose above his background to serve a country fraught with tension. His guidance created a New Era, which, sadly, had to leave him to the ages. The heightened stakes only serve to highlight the President's tragic yet awe-inspiring history.

In the words of "Henry Sturges" (per S. Grahame-Smith): “Most men have no purpose but to exist, Abraham; to pass quietly through history as minor characters upon a stage they cannot even see"; but "...some men are just too interesting to die."


  1. Hmm, you're making me want to read this book.... and a bunch of others. I decided to go back and read some of your past reviews because I've really only read the ones from the past month. Ahhhh, so many books I want to read now!!

  2. This one is FANTASTIC. And yay, thanks for reading! XD