Narrators: Scott Holst
Rating: 8 out of 10
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Length: 10 hours, 14 minutes
Pages: 336 (print version)
Challenges: 2012 Audio Book Challenge
Synopsis (from Booklist): Everyone knows that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and saved the country from disunion, but very few were privy to the fact that Honest Abe was an honest-to-goodness vampire hunter; that is, until Grahame-Smith unearthed Lincoln’s secret journal, an intimate document detailing the lifelong battle he waged against the undead. Motivated by the vampire-initiated death of his mother, 11-year-old Abe vowed to “kill every vampire in America.” True to his pledge, he spent the next 50 years honing his skills and stalking his prey. Recognizing an inextricable link between slavery and vampires, he expanded his mission to include destroying the “peculiar institution.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Overall Impression: Grahame-Smith managed to capitalize on the vampire hysteria right before it started to fade (and be replaced by fairy tale hysteria). I’m reading it two years later, and while I never really got the whole vampire thing, there is a lot to like about the irreverent Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. While some readers might find the dry, traditional biographical narrative boring, I thought it was very clever (and I like biographies, so I didn’t mind). Grahame-Smith managed to take Lincoln’s actual biography and insert vampires in it in a totally (yet not-at-all) believable way. He took all the prominent events of Lincoln’s life and modified them slightly so that vampires would seem totally reasonable. Grew up in a log cabin? Actually a cover for a secret underground vampire lair. Lincoln’s skill with an axe? The perfect weapon with which to slay a vampire. John Wilkes Booth? A vampire who wanted the vampire-controlled South to rise again. I thought the whole thing was decidedly ingenious. Also, I learned a lot about Lincoln’s actual biography, since so much of what Grahame-Smith wrote was actually true!
Positives: It was just a lot of fun — gimmicky, but not in a bad way.
Negatives: Reducing the slave population to only a feeding source felt a little shallow. I wish he’d also addressed that there were other, more traditional causes for slavery. It made the entire slave population feel very one-note.
Narration: Holst did an excellent job, especially with Abe’s slow, deliberate speech. I do wish there had been more distinction between the other characters, though.
Other books I’ve read by Seth Grahame-Smith: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (review)
Other books I’ve listened to narrated by Scott Holst: none
Other blogger opinions:
Steve Betz: “Yes, this book is a lark, and I’m really not going to line up to read all the knock-offs, but if you want to take a stab at this mini-genre, this one is pretty fun.”
Budd at Scifi Media: “I actually learned quite a bit from this book, which is strange because it is about fighting vampires.”
All Things Writing: “I know that some people are offended by the idea of one of our most beloved presidents being portrayed this way, but personally, I think it worked.”