Saturday, October 20, 2012

BOOK & MOVIE REVIEW: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter ~ Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Grand Central Publishing
March 2, 2010
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

We know Abraham Lincoln as the 16th president of the United States. For his Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the Confederate states. We don't know him as a vampire hunter.

Until now.

Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter tells us the full story of Abraham Lincoln's life.
Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.
(from Goodreads)

With the journal Abe kept his whole life as the source, the guide Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gives us an 'enhanced' biography of Lincoln. As someone who loves (well done) vampire tales as well as historical fiction and biographies, Grahame-Smith's novel is really the perfect marriage of the two (vampire and history) genres.

Though ALVH is clearly a novel, a work of fiction, it uses careful historical research, too. From Lincoln's childhood to his early years as a shopkeeper, his early political endeavors all the way to President, it's a biography of Lincoln in many ways.

With some vampires.

The vampires aren't stuck in, either. While the biography side of the novel feels very real (I haven't read enough - or read it recently enough - about Lincoln to be sure just how much of it all is true) and factual, the insertion of vampires into the story, actually give the actions great motivation. Abe's fight against the vampires, his anger at them makes a lot of things, actions and their consequences, make perfect sense.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter isn't a story where it's a stretch to believe that the paranormal element added to the known story could be true. Rather, it makes the known story almost better in some ways. Seth Grahame-Smith has fully integrated his 'other' into a very well known person's life story.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will give you a better idea of Lincoln's life and all that he overcame and accomplished while you have some fun with a vampire story.

Rating: 9/10

Film Version

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
20th Century Fox
October 23, 2012
105 minutes: R for violence, brief sexuality
(with Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead & Anthony Mackie)
info at IMDb/buy BluRay & DVD/Amazon Instant Video

The film version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter features a screenplay written by the novels author Seth Grahame-Smith. The novel and the screenplay being penned by the same person are probably why, despite the novel and film having such different stories, they have a quite similar feel.

While the book was a biography (with vampires), the movie is more of a journey/quest story.

Though, with the different way the story was told and the shorter time period it (logically) focused on, it still felt like we were learning much of the same key things about Lincoln's personality. The exact actions or events may have been different on screen, but it was possible to tell which events they were mirroring from the page, in order to give viewers the same message about Abe or another character.

The movie seems to stray more from history, from fact than the book did - and the change in characters introduce that. The main, main characters are the same - at least in presence, if not always in personality - while at least one new character is inserted. Mary Todd Lincoln's portrayal is quite different here than the book and what I think is true, but within the confines of this (fictional) tale it was nicely done.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter doesn't venture into horror movie territory - though there are some startling moments and there is tension. Nor is is a historical, period piece.  The filming and staging felt reminiscent of a graphic novel. Not in the sense of, say, the 'Spider Man' movies, but more if you took Buffy Season 8 - or something similar - took it from the page and put it into motion, and not quite animated. Then mixed it with a bit of maybe 'Sin City.'

While it did keep certain scenes from feeling entirely real, it gave the film a fun feeling; the panoramics of the battle scenes and the fight scenes especially.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the novel and the film are almost two entities that can stand completely alone. Watching or reading one won't ruin the other for you and if you're familiar with one, you can still enjoy the other.

thank you to Think Jam and Fox for my screener of the film 


  1. I'm planning on watching this movie soon so I'm glad you enjoyed it. I haven't read the book, but after I watch the movie I might pick up the book just to see what it's like :)

    Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

    1. The book and movie really were quite different. Not so that I was disappointed in either, more that it surprised me. I did like them both, though :)

  2. Thank you for posting your review of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Splot. I have eagerly awaited the arrival of this movie on disk. I logged in to Blockbuster @Home early Tuesday morning just so that I could add this to the top of my queue. It should be here this weekend; just in time for the little screening party I have planed with a few of my coworkers from DISH. I haven’t read the book, but since you said seeing the movie won’t spoil the book, I will probably pick that up later this week.

    1. The movie really should not spoil the book. I think the movie takes more of a fictional route while the book seems to be more of an autobiography, each with vampires thrown into the mix.

      I do believe you can have read/seen either and still really enjoy the other!

      Thank you for the comment - I hope your screening party is s success :)


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