By Seth Grahame-Smith
Available now from Grand Central Publishing; Review copy
I'm not often this torn about a book.
On one hand, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER has a lot going for it. I enjoy the meta, that a vampire sent Seth Grahame-Smith Lincoln's diaries. I admire how well Grahame-Smith managed to replicate the tone of a history text - somewhat dry, but hints that the author is having lots of fun. (I would, however, be over the moon for footnotes.) Grahame-Smith makes up most of Lincoln's backstory wholesale, but says it quite convincingly. I'll also admit that the bloody mayhem is fairly fun too. On the other hand, Grahame-Smith failed to absorb me into his world.
Perhaps it was because of the academic tone. Perhaps it was the use of history I'm familiar with. Whatever it was, I could not stop reading critically after Lincoln's encounter with a slave market.
The Civil War is a rough time to write about. People still feel strongly about it, especially since racism is alive and well. The depiction of racism in pop culture is important. (See: Racialicious.)
Lincoln is pretty horrified by how the slaves are treated. But he only vows to end slavery once he realizes the slaves help sustain America's vampire population. It made me uncomfortable, especially since human rights' violations convinced the real Lincoln slavery needed to be ended. I disliked that ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER made vampires the tipping point, the impetus for the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War. I felt like it cheapened many of the real reasons the nation went to war against itself.
I had fun reading ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, mostly. But I'm not looking to be made uncomfortable by my popcorn reading. Although, my medieval lit professor, a classmate, and myself noticed an odd thing about Grahame-Smith's writing: it's enjoyable enough while you're reading, but it doesn't really compel you to pick the book up after you set it down. I ended up reading ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER in sporadic chunks.