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Book Review

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith


Book Review by William Ouligian

Check out William Ouligian’s review of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel-turned-movie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. 

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a historical fiction novel that chronicles the struggles of Abraham Lincoln’s life. There is just one twist. Honest Abe is portrayed as a fit, axe-wielding, vampire exterminator. In this literary work the goal of our 16th President is to extinguish all vampires from American society. Written in the first person, the reader is given insight into the causes behind Lincoln’s political actions and his character as he develops from a boy to the President of the United States.

While reading this book I was mildly surprised at the length Seth Grahame-Smith went to preserve historical propriety while still retaining a coherent and exciting plot. The story contains some factual evidence. The falsehoods are written in such a way that they could be construed as believable because of how well they fit within the historical context of the book. Grahame-Smith has tied vampirism to various, unrelated events and persons throughout American history. Examples are the disappearance of Roanoke, Edgar Allen Poe, slavery, and the Civil War. Grahame-Smith has also made this story unique in another regard. He has introduced the popular portrayal of vampires within a new literary genre.

There are two issues I have with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. In the author’s attempt to mimic Lincoln’s writing style he overuses antiquated words to the point of redundancy (for example, ‘notwithstanding’). Second, I felt there was a pacing and action issue in the novel. Ironically, the Civil War (and a large part of Lincoln’s political career) receives minimal attention, despite being the single most important series of events in his life. Instead, the majority of the novel focuses on Lincoln’s childhood, early adulthood, and family life. The story would be complete if the author had given more attention to the Civil War.

This book should be very interesting to most students because the story carries so many intriguing qualities. I think it is best suited for those who are interested in historical fiction. The setting, characters, and absurd plot reinforce the mannerisms and events that were commonplace during the Civil War era.