Can there be anything left to learn about the 16th president of the United States? Er, maybe. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter goes where the renowned historian Doris Kearns Goodwin might fear to tread, suggesting that?well…the Civil War was fought to rid this great ?nation of a scourge of undead who, when not sucking blood, were trafficking in slaves. And leading the charge was Honest Abe himself, a committed vampire killer since boyhood, when he learned that his mama and his granddaddy too were felled by fangs. Seth Grahame-Smith, the enterprising fellow who breaks this scoop, uses as his proof a heretofore unknown (fictional) diary of Lincoln’s that apparently fell into the author’s possession, oh, some time after the success of his previous book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Thanks to P&P&Z, a delicious mutant book craze was born. But then opportunists infested the territory. Written by a lesser scribe, the second Austen parody, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, just lay there like a dead squid. It’s nice to see plucky Grahame-Smith retake his turf.
But that still leaves us with a trivial book, clinging to a fad past its prime — a labored send-up that refracts the life story of one of the most important, famous, and minutely analyzed figures in all of American history through a cockeyed and ultimately foolish lens. (Lincoln’s mentor in all things bloody is revealed to be a good-guy vampire named Henry.) In 300-plus pages of textbook biography, alternating with flowery passages from Lincoln’s purported journal, we learn that all the usual historical bad guys were vampires. Fangs for nothing. C+