Sunday, 27 April 2014

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Alt-history by the creator of that trend of adding monsters to fiction, starting with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which quite frankly, I rifled through once, saw the bits that had been added, winced at how they'd been added, and put it gently back down and backed away.

See, that sounds like a great idea for a late night discussion at a pub when you're all tipsy and want to argue about what would happen if zombies invaded Jane Austen. To me, that remains the proper locale. Such discussions do not generally need to be published. I couldn't see anything they were adding to the story, and for the most part, the author was using a book that's now in the public domain and changing small bits of it, then making money.

For years, one of my friends has collected Family Circus books, and circulated them at parties, inviting people to write their own (frequently outrageous and jawdropping) punchlines underneath the saccharine ones. I love these books. They make me laugh, they make me outraged, they make me doubt the sanity of my friends. I do not think they need to be published, even if Family Circus were in the public domain.

So how do I feel about this one, which appears to be more of the author actually writing, rather than tweaking existing material, doing an alt-history? It's certainly more up my alley - my husband and I bat around ideas for an alt-Canadian history book we could write, with Sir John A. using a wooden mecha to fight Bigfoot, or with Laura Secord as a superspy. Or how ninjas helped win the Quiet Revolution. None of these ideas have ever made it to paper, but we have fun talking about it.

Seth Grahame-Smith actually wrote it. Well, a book-length version of one story, and I'm not entirely sure there's enough here. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter kept my attention (unsurprising - I needed some fluff after a book about the Sudan and another about the plight of the working-class in Victorian England). But I didn't laugh, I didn't even crack a wry smile. The book is already disappearing from my memory and I finished it yesterday.

My American political history is spotty, so I can't speak how in-depth his research was. So for pure entertainment value, it's okay. It didn't bore me, it didn't enrage me, it didn't capture or enrapture me.

I had expected it to be funnier, and I'm not sure the seriousness served this work well, although I do admit that I can imagine plenty of versions where humour grated.

It's just fluff. And sometimes, that's okay. But on the other hand, I can't think of any particular reason to recommend it, either.

1 comment:

  1. Not something I would ever be tempted to read, but I agree with you that Jane Austen & zombies should be confined to late night pub speculations. I read another version where Darcy was a vampire, Sooo bad.