I’m not much of a reader. I probably only read about one piece of fiction during any given calendar year. I know. It’s sad, especially coming from a guy who calls himself a writer. It’s not that I hate reading, but I’m usually too busy juggling so many projects and efforts that I simply don’t have the time to commit to a full blown epic-sized novel. However, that all changed the minute I heard about Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
I first learned of the book while flipping through the pages of Entertainment Weekly. The book had only been out for one week and it was already dominating the sales charts. Naturally, I was curious about the book, not only because of its high sales volume, but also because of the title itself. The book’s title alone comprises two of my guilty pleasures, history and vampires. Growing up in the Indiana Jones movie era, my fascination with history, most notably archeology was instilled and fevered at a very early age. But let’s face it. There’s not too much to uncover in the Buckeye state of Ohio, and I have to come to grips with reality, I’m a swashbuckler after all. And well, my lore for vampires simply goes without saying.
I did some very quick research on the book. After all, it’s not every piece of literature that instantly catches my eye so I wanted to know if this was the real deal or if the concept was just a ploy and/or gimmick suckers like me buy into. Here’s what I found.
After reading countless user reviews on my best friend’s website (the online king called Amazon), my mouse pointer ended up helplessly hovering over the “Add Cart” link and before I knew it, an electrical impulse from my brain triggered the nerve endings in my mouse finger to click the “Add Cart” button. And that’s how it all went down, the purchase anyway. But, if you ask me what truly sold me on this the most, then I would have to say it was Seth Grahame-Smith’s answer to the most poignant of all questions. How did he come up with the insane idea to write a book about both vampires and Abraham Lincoln? I mean you got to admit. That’s quite a wicked combination. Don’t you think? Well, his answer was simply the following (I hope you don’t mind me paraphrasing). He said that he walked into a book store one day and saw two of the biggest subjects throughout the store prominently displayed. It was the anniversary of America’s 16th President and one of our most famous, Abraham Lincoln. The other popular decor, that he could not dismiss, was America’s current love for vampire tales (True Blood, Twilight). That’s when the idea struck him. If he could somehow combine both subjects, then people will literally eat this sh#t up. You got to love financial geniuses like him. I admire the hell out of him. I wish it could be me. When’s my lucky break? But anyway…
Upon receipt, I did my usual ritual/tradition of admiring the very cool jacket artwork and reading the liner notes contained within before cracking it open. Ah. There’s nothing like the smell of a new book and fresh papyrus. My expectations were high. My curiosity was peaked. It was finally time to read!
The story and the author’s writing style make this both an easy and pleasurable read. The book is written in a simplistic biographical fashion. Our story begins with a man named Henry Sturges. One fateful day he gives an author a set of secret diaries to write about. The author was given a choice. He could have denied Henry’s offer, but as what happens all the time with curiosity, it got the best of him I guess you can say. Little did the author know that these diaries were the genuine former property, writings and thoughts of America’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, and most importantly, they contained proof that vampires are and always have been living among us. Again, why can’t these kinds of things ever happen to me?
The biography starts off examining Lincoln’s early childhood, his relationship with his father and probably most importantly, the rage he felt from the untimely demise of his mother. But did his mother really die of disease like we are all led to believe or was there an unimaginable power/force behind her death? You’ll find out and more. This one single event actually sets the stage in motion for a wild romping 300+ page turner that I simply could not put down.
Here’s what I like best about the book. It discusses and revolves around actual historical events that transpired in our nation’s rich history along with all the prominent historical figures involved too and somehow Seth manages to conceivably put a vampire spin on it all. I emphasize and stress the word “all.” And guess what? It actually worked quite well indeed! It’s a stroke of pure genius if you ask me.
I have to admit. Right out of the gate, I was not overly impressed with this read, but much like Act 1 of a movie that has to set up the events of an epic story, all I had to do was have a little patience. All I know is that when Abraham Lincoln committed his first vampire kill, I never wanted to put this book down. There were, however, a couple of times when I felt the story becoming a bit too cliché and I was concerned about just how predictable the next few pages would become, but Seth Grahame-Smith hit it out of the park with surprise twists after twists that I never saw coming and each time he did, I was nevertheless intrigued and invigorated ever more. After all, there was a reason why Abraham Lincoln became our nation’s President and eventually freed the slaves. You think the war and all this had nothing to do with vampires? Think again!
Lastly, my quick synopsis would not be complete if I did not mention the Hollywood tie-in. That’s right, the cash cow of all cash cows. Within a week of this book’s release it was announced that Tim Burton and Timur Bekmanbetov have secured the rights to bring Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to the silver screen. As long as it is not an abomination of the senses like 2009’s 9, then I look forward with warm affection and much anticipation in seeing big Abe kicking some vampire a$$ left and right. What brings me southern comfort is the fact that Mr. Seth Grahame-Smith himself will be helming the duty of adapting this story to a screenplay. At least I am already intimately familiar with the writer’s artistic vision, but if he needs any help at all, I am only an email click away. You hear that Seth?
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was released on March 2, 2010. As of this writing, it is still among the Top 10 on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction. Make sure to get your copy today!