I tend to be one of those people who needs to read the novel before the movie, or sometime immediately after, so I can sit around and decide what Hollywood did wrong. With that in mind I decided to give Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith a read. Mr. Grahame-Smith is also the man responsible for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. His Abraham Lincoln “biography” turns our 16th President into a badass, and near life long, vampire hunter.
The intro of the novel is a first person account in which the author sets up how he was given the diaries of President Lincoln and tasked with turning them in to a biography of the President’s vampire hunting. The remainder of the novel is a mix of biographical and historical facts from Abraham Lincoln’s life that have been altered to include vampires. Some of the deaths that occurred in Lincoln’s family are no longer cases of typhoid or milk sickness or Indian attacks; they’re now the result of a vampire attacks. Lincoln discovers that vampires exist from his father, and because of how this knowledge impacts his family, he vows to spend the rest of his days hunting vampires to extinction. Despite Lincoln’s drive to eradicate all vampires, he does come to realize, through his association with a vampire named Henry, that there are some vampires he can trust. Over time Lincoln learns about vampire basics, how to better hunt them, their history, their ambitions, and their long term plans. Some historical figures in early America are set up as vampire confidants, allies, enemies and vampires themselves. The novel implies that Abe Lincoln pursued a political life not just out of his own ambition to help others, but to make things more difficult for the vampires who’ve settled in America. Basically, in this retelling of history, the Civil War and the end of slavery ended up happening partly because of vampires.
When I picked this up I completely ignored the fact that it was presented as a biography. I don’t read many biographies, so I went in to this expecting it to be a novel with Abraham Lincoln as the main character. Luckily for me, Mr. Grahame-Smith took made the biographical bits enjoyable and liberally dispersed first person accounts from Lincoln’s point of view. It’s not a format I’m used to, but I found it really easy to follow and a good read. I’m hoping the movie will be just as much fun as this was.