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Literature / Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

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Abe Lincoln. He hunts vampires.

"I hereby resolve to kill every vampire in America."

A historical fantasy book by Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Young Abraham Lincoln sees his mother die when he is just a boy. He soon discovers that a vampire is responsible. Swearing vengeance, Lincoln goes on to moonlight as a vampire hunter with the help of ethical vampire Henry Sturges. Along the way, a large number of historical figures from Lincoln's era are shown to be either vampires, vampire sympathizers, or vampire hunters.

Also, the Civil War was a proxy war between vampires who wanted to rule humanity, and vampires who wanted to be left alone. Guess which side was which.

Other than the added vampires, the book stays true to the events of Lincoln's life. Most of the time.

A movie adaptation was released on June 22, 2012, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, produced by Tim Burton, and starring Benjamin Walker in the title role. Seth Grahame-Smith adapted the screenplay himself.

There's also a sequel, The Last American Vampire.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Action Politician: Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Actually Not a Vampire: A funny shortened version where Abe and Edgar Poe meet on the street and mistake each other for vampires (because of the way they were dressed and for recognizing another man who actually was a vampire). Of course, they straighten things out and become friends.
  • All Just a Dream: A Running Gag. Basically, if the chapter opens with main characters being randomly killed by vampires, expect to shortly read "Abe awoke with a start."
  • Arc Words:
    • "Judge us not equally."
    • "Some men are just too interesting to die."
    • "These are the last seconds of my life."
    • "All of us deserve Hell, but some of us deserve it sooner."
  • Artistic License – History: Well, yeah.
  • Alternate History: Averted. The book claims to be the true history of Lincoln, and historically things go much the same way as they did in real life.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Averted. Lincoln's Roaring Rampage of Revenge is cool, calm and methodical, and also kept secret from anyone but his closest friends.
    • He does have one moment of ax craziness near the end, where he snaps upon being offered the chance to resurrect Willie, and tries to behead Henry.
  • Back from the Dead: Abraham Lincoln was turned into a vampire after his assassination.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The book lives on this trope. Lincoln was a vampire hunter, as was William Seward, Edgar Allan Poe was a vampire fanboy, the Roanoke colony was killed off by its vampiric doctor, and John Wilkes Booth was, you guessed it, a vampire.
  • Berserk Button: Do not speak callously about any of Abe's lost loved ones. Being a vampire is also a bad idea.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Henry rescues Lincoln from Jefferson Davis's ambush.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: The vampires' pupils are dilated to the point that it looks like they have these.
  • Bloodier and Gorier than its contemporary vampire stories. But a lot of the carnage is unrelated to the vampires themselves with regular old-fashioned human-on-human war and murder being large parts of the book.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Sunlight burns the skin of young vampires, but after a few years they become immune. Their eyes, however, never become immune no matter how long they live, so they have to wear sunglasses in daytime.
  • Direct Line to the Author: The Framing Device involves Grahame-Smith receiving Lincoln's long-lost journals.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Abe, three separate times. He doesn't go through with it.
    • Also most vampires. Henry explains that it only takes about 300 years to literally do everything there is to do, and most vampires grow sick of living before they finish their 3rd century.
  • Elite Mooks: The Confederacy deploys vampire infantry.
  • Eye Scream: The above vampire infantry are described having mutilated several men, including poking out a drummer boy's eyes.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Averted. Abe seems to think this at first, incredulous that one woman is a vampire (expecting it to be her husband), but quickly learns better.
    • Which is strange, considering the first vampire he comes across while hunting is a woman who kidnapped and murdered children.
  • Footnote Fever: Grahame-Smith uses footnotes to explain places and terms that readers might not know, references for quotes (usually the Bible or William Shakespeare), or how recorded history got some actual event wrong.
  • Foreshadowing: The aforementioned dream sequences have a lot of this.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who had to study American history in grade school knows how the war turned out and what happened to Lincoln, and all it takes is a quick internet search to find out the fates of most of Abe's family and friends.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Henry Sturges. He is obliged to feed on people, but makes a point to only kill bad ones, or those so old or ill they're about to die anyway. As he puts it, 'All of us deserve hell, but some of us deserve it sooner.'
  • Heel Realization: Stephen Douglas when Lincoln tells him the vampires he was preaching for intended to enslave all of America, just like the blacks were enslaved to whites.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: With a title like that, what did you expect?
  • Historical Domain Character: Most of the characters, including Henry, who is probably the most obscure.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Henry, though mostly by assisting mortal hunters rather than doing much hunting himself.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Edgar Allen Poe tells Abe a story of two lesbian vampires in East Europe (one of whom was the infamous Lady Bathory) who were into some 'kinky stuff' i.e. torture, rape, and murder.
  • The Lost Lenore: Anne.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When Booth assassinates Lincoln. The North and its vampiric allies due to the death of their leader. The South and its vampires because Booth had, in their minds, gone too far.
  • Meaningful Name: Lincoln refers to the primitive incendiary devices he created to blind vampires before attacking them as 'martyrs'.
  • Monster Progenitor: Discussed. Henry tells Abraham that many vampires have attempted to trace their "lineage", and that some believe in the theory of a "first vampire". However, due to vampires' solitary nature, none have ever succeeded in tracing their history any farther back than two or three "generations".
  • Motor Mouth: Joshua Speed.
  • No Antagonist: While Southern vampires are the default bad guys in the book, there is no actual central antagonist in the book itself. The closest we get is John Wilkes Booth, who only shows up near the end to do exactly what he's forever known to have done.
  • Noodle Incident: World War II, of all things. It is referred to briefly as "the Second Vampire Uprising".
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Most of them are at least tolerant of sunlight (the weakness fades with age), garlic has no effect, and their eyes turn completely black when they're about to feed. They can also do things like jump from one bank of the Mississippi to the other in one leap. Their existence is also known to many of those in power, and a faction of them is allied with the Confederate States of America.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Especially in one scene where a couple of amateur hunters destroy the pipe system a wealthy vampire was using to siphon blood from living people.
  • People Farms: The ultimate plan of a huge alliance of American vampires.
  • The Quisling: Jefferson Davis is more than happy with handing humanity to the vamps.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Abe does this several times, usually after the death of a loved one.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Abe's ax always finds the target with the sharp end. Unless that target is Henry.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Henry calls vampires to be killed 'those who deserve it sooner' in his letters.
  • Vampires Are Rich: They tend to be, yes. Justified in the short term as one can rapidly accrue wealth if one takes the time to loot the corpse of your victim
  • Vampire Hunter: Abe obviously and a couple of his friends whom he recruits to help him. Several others are mentioned in passing or play small roles.
  • Vampiric Draining: The old-fashioned kind, bloodsucking.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: While the concept is obviously ludicrous, Grahame-Smith supplements it with actual historical context and events as well as direct quotes from Lincoln himself. The brawl that led to Jack Armstrong befriending Lincoln? An amalgamation of testimonies based around the actual event. "The Suicide's Soliloquy?" Written by Lincoln. Lincoln's dream of his own funeral? A direct quote from the man himself.
  • War Is Hell: Shown clearly and graphically as well as outright stated.
  • Weird West
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Early in his mentoring, Henry gives Abe a lecture on the disadvantages of being immortal, to explain why so many of his kind commit suicide in their third centuries. "Without death, life (becomes) meaningless. It is a story that can never be told. A song that can never be sung. For how would one finish it?"
  • You Killed My Father: Lincoln's mother is killed by a vampire. So is one of his sons.
    • So was his grandfather, although his death was blamed on Indians.