Written by: Matt Molgaard
I’m no historian, so before I even begin to speak on Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, take into consideration that in order to verify specific historical facts, I was forced to stray and do a load of research of my own. Well, I wasn’t forced to per say, but when you’re reading a piece of fiction that interweaves countless facts, to call fact-checking compelling is an understatement; this piece of work really makes you want to know what is accurate and what isn’t. Why is this relevant to this review you ask? Because Grahame-Smith is startlingly true to history with this engrossing period piece, and should you be as ignorant to history as I, you may never know it, that’s why.
What’s my point again? Ah yes, read up on “Honest Abe” in advance of reading this novel, the factual references, accurate dates, names and occurrences almost create a (strange) sense of interactivity for the reader. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is really an amazing amalgamation of truth and imagination, so much so in fact that you’ll find plenty of forum posts in which readers actually question Abe’s stance as a true-to-life vampire slayer. It’s fiction people, as believable as Grahame-Smith tells it.
What I found insanely fascinating about this story is the smoothness with which Seth introduces Lincoln’s extracurricular activities and their perfectly timed correlation to some of the devastating blows Lincoln was truly dealt: his mother for instance, having passed from tremetol (or as it was referred to, “milk sickness”), was actually victim to a vampire, whom his father, Thomas, owed money yet was unable to repay. I haven’t found a wealth of literature (I admit I’ve only invested a few hours of research) to support the incredible disdain Abe is said to have held for his father within the book’s pages, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if their relationship was as rocky as Grahame-Smith illustrates, and this occurrence makes for a believable motive for that friction. Thomas, within this specific story was essentially a coward, who allowed a bloodsucker to take his wife, Abe’s mother, with no resistance… over money, of all things.
The book is littered with fathomable tie-ins of this nature, which, for this reader, created an extreme level of sympathy for Abe. The man swears to extinguish every living vampire in America after having witnessed (to an extent) the whole ordeal (his mother’s demise, I speak of) from the cramped confines of an outhouse, and it’s rather easy to feel his fury. For the next handful of decades, Lincoln spends his time tracking and killing vampires after himself being saved by one of the undead, one Henry Sturges.
Sturges, a vampire of a different nature, saves Abe from the fate of a sinister little woman who’s no woman at all, but a hunter in her own right, of small children from which she feeds. Lincoln attempts to slaughter the creature one quiet night after discovering her with yet another victim in her hands. Things don’t go well for Abe however, and he’s quickly gotten the better of; staring death in the face, when Henry arrives just in time to save the future 16th President of the United States and most feared vampire hunter in history. Abe is of course reluctant upon waking in the home of Sturges, but after being nursed back to health and informed a great deal, Abe finds not only a friendly companion, but a guide to help teach him the proper ways of vampire hunting, and the targets in which Abraham should focus. For the virtual remainder of his life, Lincoln follows instructions delivered by Henry, and begins on a path that will ultimately uncover the vampire corruption that broods in the South.
And therein lay another fantastic connection between reality and this imaginative, intelligent tale. The Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t just about freeing the slaves of the rebellious southern states: it was about breaking down the powerful reign of the vampire. See, in this story, slave owners of the rebellious states weren’t simply vile men: they were walking, talking bloodsuckers who utilized the slave trade for more than manual labor. Slaves unfit for proper work were purchased by these monsters despite physical deficiencies: they were purchased as meals. For every 20 slaves sold, only a few actually survived to be “owned” by the white man, most were simply snacks for the hordes of vampires who’d served a pivotal role in the rebellion.
I’d really love to just divulge every detail relayed in this wonderful piece of work, but I’m not about to do that; there are just too many wildly creative connections fabricated here to spoil. I will however say this: within these pages, those opposed to Lincoln’s political stance (and traditionally unspoken of, ulterior motives) are nine times out of ten either vampires, or directly connected to the vampires. Slaves to the undead if you will, hoping only to save their own asses as the plasma thieves’ plan what can only be described as a full-on takeover of the United States.
Good lord how I love this novel.
There are literary works of all sorts that we obsessed bibliophiles immediately know to be treasures, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is one such piece of art. Within just a few pages, that “special” feeling crawls over the skin, slips into the creases of the eyelids and wriggles its way into the brain, into the blood. I liken this reading experience to the first time I opened Stephen King’s, Salem’s Lot (my favorite vampire novel ever written). It’s a very, very special creation and it’s evident in mere moments. Once you open this book, there’s just no putting it down and no chance of ever forgetting it.