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Fun but forgettable read
on July 31, 2010
I must admit that I didn't really know what to expect when my contact at Hachette sent this one my way. Like many, I had heard about this author via the noise made by the popularity of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. My gut kept telling me that this novel wasn't quite up my alley, but my curiosity was piqued in a way that prevented me from giving it a pass.
Since I needed light and entertaining stuff to keep me from opening my veins out of boredom during my 26 hours of transit to get to and from Southeast Asia, and during my long bus rides across Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, I decided to bring Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter with me.
Here's the blurb:
Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness.""My baby boy..." she whispers before dying. Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire. When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, ""henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose.".." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House. While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon "The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln," and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years. Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the "true" life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.
Seth Grahame-Smith's rewriting of American history turned out to be a fun read. At times, the author stretches the limits of credibility while incorporating vampires in the great tapestry which forms the backdrop for what became the Land of the Free. And yet, if you can do with a little suspension of belief here and there, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter makes for an entertaining read. History buffs could likely take this book apart, sure. But truth suffers from too much analysis anyway. . .
The novel follows the steps that saw Abraham Lincoln go from a young man to the President of the United States of America. Though I know enough of American history, I'm not conversant enough on the topic to say whether or not the author did a great job in his portrayal of Lincoln and the events which led to his becoming president. Making vampires the driving force behind every significant event of that epoch is a bit much, mind you, yet people buying a book titled Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter are probably prepared to deal with a few fantasy elements.
The characterization is a bit crooked at times. Abraham Lincoln, although a great man whose deeds have echoed down the centuries, may not have been the most endearing of men. Hence, it's a good thing the narrative doesn't necessarily rely on him to carry the story on his shoulders, because he can be a bit on the lame and boring side. Henry Sturges, on the other hand, was a very interesting character. Sadly, we don't get to learn much about the man.
Readers know the outcome of this one, as everyone has heard of Lincoln's fate. You feel like you can see the ending coming from a mile away. And yet, the author throws an unanticipated curveball toward the end that took me completely off-guard, and which brings this novel to a satisfying close.
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is a light and compelling read. Probably not a work that people will be talking about in years to come, but a fun read nonetheless.