Book Review: Abraham Lincoln slays vamps in well-researched historical fantasy

Almost always when I hear a movie is being made based on a book, I find myself running out to buy the book before the movie comes out so I can experience the story in its most authentic form. Therefore, I don’t consider myself someone that succumbs easily to peer pressure, as it seems everyone is reading this book right now. Additionally, I’m very picky about fiction and completely new to this ‘historical fiction’ genre that’s become trendy of late, so I had low expectations for it before I started–I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is, as suggested on the back cover, “weirdly well researched.” Grahame-Smith weaves what would without vampire lore be another Abe Lincoln biography into a gut-wrenching, gruesome, exciting tale of love, loss, revenge, violence, war, and peace.

I’ll refrain from spoiling anything for those who haven’t read this yet, but I felt a special word and some acknowledgement was necessary.

Plot Synopsis

In ALVH, vampires were on the brink of blowing their cover in pre-Columbian Europe; so naturally, they ventured to the New World–ever hear of the mysterious disappearance of the Roanoke Colony? Well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but they weren’t killed Croatians, that’s for sure.

In nineteenth-century Indiana, a young Abe Lincoln is born. As a young boy, he holds his mother’s hand as she dies, presumably of “milk sickness.” What Abe is to discover is that when a vampire administers a small, “Fool’s dose” of vampire blood to a victim, it causes a sickness to slowly consume the body until the victim soon thereafter dies, and a debt owed by Mr. Lincoln causes an angry undead to exact revenge on Abe’s sweet mother.

“Live, Abraham,” she pleads with her dying breath. He vows to avenge her by destroying every last vampire in the country. And the rest is (American) history.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter Review

Grahame-Smith did his homework. So much of this is factual information that I found I needed to stop now and then to remind myself that this was a work of fiction. Without the addition of vampirism, this would be another Abraham Lincoln biography.

What’s so incredibly impressive and unique is how details of Lincoln’s life that we know to be true are so effortlessly and gracefully linked directly to fictional plot elements of the book; for example, on a work trip down to New Orleans, Abe follows a man who purchases the cheapest slaves (the worst workers) at the slave auction back to his home, where he witnesses each of them killed at the fang of vampires. With this, Abe resolves to abolish slavery and cut off the primary food supply of Confederate vampires. The Battle of Antietam? Well obviously it was so bloody because half the Confederate army was vampires!

Bottom Line

It’s been a few days since I actually finished the book, but I’m still blown away. The writing style (except for the frame story) of Abe’s journal entry are, for the most part, true to the period; unfortunately, I found the writing style of the narrater–who claims to be compiling these primary sources, written by the hand of Abraham Lincoln, into a sequence of events that can serve to tell Lincoln’s story–to be incredibly pretentious, annoying, and literally painful to read. Thankfully, this was such a small fraction at the very beginning of the book that it didn’t take away from the experience of reading the rest of the book.

Having read this, I’m much more excited for the movie. I really hope they remain true to the book because I can see them taking liberties and straying too far from Lincoln’s actual life that it would take away a lot of what makes the book so great. I have to admit, though, that the movie posters are pretty exciting.

In all, I’d easily give this book a 7 out of 10. I mean, it was just so damned fun. I can’t count how many times that I thought Wow, so that is why Abraham did this or This is really clever! while reading. If you like: History, fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, comedy, horror, thriller, suspense, period pieces, and adventure, you really can’t go wrong with this one.

About the author

My name is Dane. I'm a writer at Android Authority as well as a tech journalist in general. As well, I'm a marketing guru, designer, and a budding web developer. My passions include portmanteaus, artisanal coffees, jackets, and the smell of fresh technology in the morning.