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46-May-June-2010
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Vampire Hunter

A-Abraham LincolnSeth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (4 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2009) added some gruesome twists to Jane Austen's classic. Here, the author--also a film and television producer--adds a new facet to Abraham Lincoln's life.

The Story: You thought you knew everything there was to know about Abraham Lincoln, didn't you? It turns out, however, that the 16th U.S. president really fought the Civil War not to eradicate slavery per se--but to do away with those who were trafficking in slaves: vampires. Honest Abe turned vampire slayer when a supernatural being killed his mother after his father earned the ire of a local vampire, part of a clan that migrated from the Old World to America in search of, yes, freedom. Are you following? As he writes in his journal (which eventually falls into the hands of Seth Grahame-Smith), Abe set out to battle the undead, end slavery, and, of course, save the Union. It all sounds eerily familiar ...
Grand Central Publishing. 352 pages. $21.99. ISBN: 9780446563086

io9.com 4 of 5 Stars
"... the result is surprisingly entertaining. ... Once you let go of the idea that this isn't trying to make fun of past history, nor undermine the actual work Lincoln did, it's sort of like one of the Back To The Future alternate timelines." Meredith Woerner

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The title sounds more like a great Saturday Night Live sketch than a compelling read. ... But Grahame-Smith's sophomore effort outlasts the kitsch value of its title, and freed from the constraints of updating (or defacing, depending on one's viewpoint) a revered literary gem, the writer delivers a well-constructed, surprisingly satisfying narrative that straight-faces its absurd premise." Gina McIntyre

Entertainment Weekly 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter goes where the renowned historian Doris Kearns Goodwin might fear to tread. ... Seth Grahame-Smith, the enterprising fellow who breaks this scoop, uses as his proof a heretofore unknown (fictional) diary of Lincoln's that apparently fell into the author's possession, oh, some time after the success of his previous book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." Lisa Schwarzbaum

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram 2.5 of 5 Stars
"If the first proposition is true that vampires as a species are as old as man himself, and man began somewhere in Africa before migrating around the globe, why were there no Native American or African vampires already? It would have added a deeper dimension if the slaves were more than just silent victims, too, as they are here." Cary Darling

Onion AV Club 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Shouldn't Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter be a vision of 19th-century secessionist vampires through the sober, tragic eyes of an eloquent orator? Instead, Lincoln becomes little more than a standard-issue thriller protagonist in a stovepipe hat." Donna Bowman

Critical Summary

After the commercial success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (and Ben H. Winters's lesser effort, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters), critics wondered if the monster-meets-historical-or-literary-figure conceit has worn thin. Fortunately, most reviewers found Abraham Lincoln to be an entertaining and fast-paced work of revisionist history, if gruesome and glib in parts. But others called the novel melodramatic, as well as faulted the author's (and Abe's) voices, though the diaries allow Grahame-Smith to narrate omnisciently. In the end, the novel is, perhaps, a gimmick--but an imaginative one that, if it won't "change anyone's life ... [is] still worth the short time it takes to read it" (i99.com).