Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Last American Vampire

by Seth Grahame-Smith
398 pgs  (Abraham Lincoln: Vamipre Hunter sequel)

In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seth Grahame-Smith began his alternative history lesson in which he reimagined our sixteenth President as an axe-wielding vampire hunter, who, with the help of his vampiric mentor, Henry Sturges, successfully held this country together during the Civil War. The lesson continues in his follow-up The Last American Vampire.

The story begins shortly after the assassination of Lincoln. Henry, mourning his friend's death, turns Lincoln into a vampire. But Lincoln's afterlife is seemingly shortlived, as he's so horrified at becoming what he had spent his entire lifetime trying to rid the nation of, that he leaps out the window and burns to death in the sunlight.

Soon afterwards, Henry is enlisted into investigating the destruction of several of the Union vampires, whose heads have been turning up along with an ominous note from someone calling themselves A. Grander VIII. His investigation takes him overseas, and to various locations in the United States. Along the way his path crosses those of Bram Stoker, Henry Irving, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain and others. He tells of his earlier life as both a human and young vampire, and we learn the secrets behind events such as the mysterious disappearance of the Roanoke Colony in Virginia, the "Ripper" murders in London, the death of Rasputin, and the failed assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler.

The Last American Vampire has many of the great qualities of a Grahame-Smith book. But for me it's the weakest of his books so far. The action and violence that made ALVH so good are too few and far between this time, and too much of the book reads like a travel log. Sturges ultimately takes on a kind of "Forrest Gump" role, as he's present for, and involved in key historical events. And while the alternative vampiric history that Grahame-Smith creates is definitely creative, if not ingenious at times, I wanted more blood.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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