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Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

In Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Abraham Lincoln uncovers a terrible truth at a tender age: that vampires infiltrate every corner of society and are “living man’s” mortal enemy. Lincoln’s father, a classic underachiever, idiotically defaults on a loan to one of the bloodsuckers, who warns that he will have to “take it in other ways.” It is no coincidence then that Abraham’s aunt, uncle, and beloved mother die quickly thereafter from a painful illness with “scorching fevers, delusions, and cramps.” Old folks called this the “milk sickness,” believed to be brought on by drinking tainted milk, but that wasn’t the case this time. Eventually Abraham learns of the connection and vows to “kill every vampire in America.”

The novel alternates between passages from Abraham’s diary and a third-person narrative. We see how Abraham, with the help of a vampire mentor who recognizes the evil in many of his kind, becomes a talented vampire hunter, wielding his deadly axe with great skill. He uncovers more of the vampires’ nefarious intentions in America and their relationship with slavery as a quick and easy means of accessing human blood. His anti-vampire vows then encompass eradicating slavery from American soil, which takes Lincoln from the backwoods of Kentucky to Washington, DC to hold the greatest office in the land.

When Seth Grahame-Smith’s literary classic/horror mashup, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, came out I was mildly intrigued by the concept but thought that it was be too contrived to read. However, when my father passed on this novel with his recommendations, I decided to try it out and found it immensely readable. Grahame-Smith succeeds with this mash-up because he uses the historical record as the novel’s spine, embellishing it with details of the vampires’ activity. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter was adapted into movie form in 2012. See the book trailer here (warning: contains some violence).