I’ve been reading a lot into the difference between books based on spectacle and those based on subtlety lately. While The Civil War thrives on spectacle and Indian Killer glories in subtlety, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter tries to thread the needle between the two. Seth Graham Smith (the man behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) has a lot of fun with coupling the dried, academic language of a typical Lincoln biography with the pulse pounding gothic thrills of a vampire rumble. And even I, stodgy old English teacher that I am, had fun with the genre mash-up most of the time.
My only complaints (and genuinely, they are minor complaints) revolves around the erratic pacing. Much of the time, Smith is content to let the life story of Lincoln slowly unfurl–like a genuine life story–guiding him to motivated (and logical) peaks of axe-wielding fury. But at points he seems bored with Lincoln’s maturation and either adopts an ambivalent tone in his writing or squeezes in a dream-sequence to satisfy those desperate for a little blood and guts.
Still, it’s a fun ride through the 19th century, with the rail splitter, splitting skulls for fun. Smith tries his best but definitely wobbles between spectacle and subtlety. And while some might say that a man like Abraham Lincoln is badass enough not to need an action-star alter ego, I tend to think of it like a chocolate coated chocolate sauce: unnecessary? Yes. Still worth a try? ABSOLUTELY