I don’t usually get into the horror genre. But the recommendation to read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter came from my son, the college junior who spent the spring anticipating the movie.
For the most part, I liked the book. Yes, it’s gruesome. I don’t intend to see the movie.
(Warning, from here on, there might be spoilers).
An aspiring writer who has never quite finished that great American novel is given a gift of ten well-worn diaries. He soon learns that the diaries belonged to America’s 16th President.
Young Abe Lincoln learns that his grandfather and mother were killed by vampires. He vows to kill as many vampires as he can. And that he does. Along the way the author does a fascinating job of weaving in the history of such places as Roanoke Island and New Orleans, where Lincoln becomes acquainted with a young Edgar Allan Poe.
Lincoln is guided in his killing by a vampire he knows as Henry Sturges. Sturges saved Lincoln from vampires in the Ohio River. But Sturges is a good vampire. Or at least that’s what he convinces Lincoln.
When he becomes the Republican nominee for President, Lincoln stops actively hunting vampires. But Sturges still guides him and helps Lincoln defend the Union.
Here’s where Grahame-Smith loses me. He essentially blames slavery and the Confederacy on the “bad” vampires.
Slave owners are vampires. Jefferson Davis is a vampire.
Okay look, I’m a son of the confederacy (lower case because the official group kinda scares me). But I understand that slavery was evil and is a dark, vile stain on our nation’s history. I even accept that it was a cause, maybe even the major cause of the Civil War.
But where I draw the line is the malarkey about everyone in the South being slave-owning racists while everyone in the North was supposedly freedom loving, color-blind abolitionists.
It just ain’t so. And I grow weary trying to correct this nonsense.
Grahame-Smith took a fascinating premise for a book, and a book that started out quite well, and ruined it with a lazy man’s approach to Civil War history.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I read it. For the most part it was a good read. And as a writer myself, it helps to read other styles of popular literature. And this way I still don’t have to read Twilight.
Oh, and John Wilkes Booth? Yeah, he’s a vampire.