Trust me on this one.
“Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” is a terrific book.
I know. That title. “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” might be the best-executed (no pun intended) work of fiction with the cheesiest title since “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
It might be easy to confuse Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2010 novel with the author’s own “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” or other historical fiction/horror fiction mashups. It’s not that at all.
Grahame-Smith’s book is a fantastic (literally) but well-told story based on the premise that Lincoln, the Midwestern farm boy and rail-splitter who grew up to be the country’s 16th president, waged a secret battle against vampires for most of his life.
In the book, Lincoln learns that his mother’s death was at the hands of a vampire after his father failed to repay a debt. The future president discovers that areas of the still-young country are rife with vampires.
The novel’s best conceit? Vampires are a huge part of the Confederacy, which slaves traded in part so they can be used to feed vampires.
Young Lincoln learns much from Henry, a mysterious, all-knowing stranger who befriends him and then trains him in the art of vampire killing. Needless to say, Henry has a secret.
The book has been made into a movie written by the novel’s author. It comes out in June.
The novel treats Lincoln and Henry, as well as the story itself, with grace, reserve and dignity. There’s not a hint of camp. Lincoln is just as tragic a figure in the book as he was in real life.
Sure, it’s bizarre to think of our nation’s greatest president hunting and beheading vampires. There’s a shock value to the title that the story can’t match.
“Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” is as preposterous-sounding as can be. But it’s a fast-paced, witty tale told well.