Author merges history, fantasy
Todd Miller | Collegio Reporter
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Just let the name sink in for a moment. It’s the kind of thing you’d hear mentioned in an attempt to ridicule modern literature. It is a statement of fleeting ridiculousness along the same lines as “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” which was written by the same author (Seth Grahame-Smith.)
If you simply dismiss this book then you would miss out on a work of well-crafted fiction. The idea is ridiculous only if you think of it like that. Vampire and zombie stories are popular right now, and if an author wants a vampire story to stand out then he needs to make it unique. Grahame-Smith does a wonderful job of this by combining a vampire story with historical fiction.
The book reads like a documentary or biography of the life of Abraham Lincoln, as told through several journals written by Lincoln. Grahame-Smith did a fantastic job of merging reality and fantasy. Excluding the vampire element, everything in the book matches Lincoln’s life point-for-point. Some clear and extensive research went into this book, and the whole story is richer for it.
The ‘vampire hunter’ element clearly cements the book in fiction, but I don’t think the story suffers for it. If one is going to write a fantasy-history for the ex-president, then I think this sort of thing matches perfectly. And, like I said, it does well to keep up with the supernatural element, which is popular right now. So it sounds ridiculous in name, but in practice it comes together wonderfully.
To help build the realistic and biographical nature of the book, a number of photos are placed throughout the narrative. Of course, in an outside perspective, they’re clearly doctored. However, when you’re waist-deep in the narrative they do a lot for the story. In this same tone, Grahame-Smith tells the majority of the story by directly quoting “Lincoln’s journals.” The voice of the journal entries does well to make it sound like the writer is from the early 1800s, which is a great way to draw the reader into the story.
Of course, not everything is coming up roses for the book. There is a slight problem in the narrative. The author did too good a job of writing the book as though it were a documentary or biography. The book drags along when nothing exciting is happening. While it does well to make the book feel realistic, it can cause a casual reader to become bored with what would otherwise be a great story.
The book also starts with a fictional introduction in which the author presents himself as a character, and explains how he came across Lincoln’s secret history as a vampire hunter. However, the whole thing feels like it was forced in to try to help blur the lines of fantasy and reality. Honestly, the book reads just fine, if not better without that introduction.
Although the book was published in 2010, it’s reaching popularity again with the imminent release of the film this June. The film is being co-produced by Tim Burton, directed by Timur Bekmambetov and the screenplay written by Grahame-Smith. Grahame-Smith has admitted to altering the story slightly to make it more fitting to a film, but I still have high expectations for the movie. The story in the book was well done, and with Burton, Bekmambetov and Grahame-Smith working on the film, I expect nothing less than greatness from the movie. You can look forward to the movie, which will be released June 22.