It’s embarrassing to admit that, when I chose The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith, I thought I had read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Evidently I hadn’t but I didn’t realize that until after I had finished The Last American Vampire. Have you ever had that happen? So embarrassing. I read tons of novels every year (probably literally) so I guess it’s inevitable that it would happen at least once. Agh! Instead I had read a different novel about Abraham Lincoln becoming a vampire. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I thought the writing style was really different in Mr. Grahame-Smith’s second novel than in his first. Well, doh, it would be wouldn’t it, since he was not the author of the original novel I read. *head-desk*
Because I was under some kind of delusion about the author and having read the first novel, this review is going to be different. I do know my delusion definitely colored how I felt about The Last American Vampire, and I’m going to attempt to put that aside in fairness to the author and his work. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was a smash bestseller for a reason. Seth Grahame-Smith is an excellent author with a fast-paced writing style and the storyline in The Last American Vampire demonstrates his extensive historical research, even if he is writing about an alternative history.
The Last American Vampire follows the tale of Henry Sturges, the vampire who was good friends with Abraham Lincoln and could not bear to see him die in such a tragic manner. Henry turned Abe without permission, thereby breaking a cardinal rule and creating disastrous results. I should mention that Henry is a character dear to the hearts of the first novel’s readers, so it made perfect sense for the author to provide a follow-up based on Henry’s astonishingly long life.
Basically Henry has lived through and been involved in just about every momentous occasion in centuries of world history. He is a vampire who believes vampires must coexist and protect humans, unlike some of his own kind. The Last American Vampire is an extended road trip, giving us an insider’s glimpse into the major events and personages of events since post-Civil War Reconstruction as well as how Henry and his vampire brethren have shaped that history unbeknownst to us humans. The scope is tremendous and the research is extensive. It all seems perfectly plausible, if a little over the top at times. I mean, seriously, how could one man or vampire have been that instrumental in so many of history’s famous events? It’s definitely a case of “buy the premise, buy the bit,” and it got a little old after while – at least for me.
Am I saying you shouldn’t read The Last American Vampire? No, I’m not saying that at all. As far as I can tell, most reviewers who’ve read it have loved every minute of it so I think you should seek out additional reviews to balance this one out. I am not panning this novel by any means. As I said, it is very well written. Remember, I was reading under false pretenses – I thought I had read Book #1 and was puzzled that Book #2 was so different. I kept grappling with that false assumption. Sigh. If I had actually realized it had no relationship with the book I had read, I know I would have read The Last American Vampire with different expectations.
So you may be asking yourself, “Why on earth is she even writing this review, if that’s the case?” Here’s the answer. I really, really liked Henry Sturges! If I’m going to read about a vampire as a protagonist, I want him to be a vampire who tries to do the right thing for all concerned despite sometimes overwhelming odds – times when it would have been oh-so easy to just say to hell with it and give in to baser instincts. Henry is a vampire with principles and honor. It also was a lot of fun to read about famous and infamous personages and historical events as portrayed in this alternative history.
The bottom line on The Last American Vampire? You may want to read a selection of different reviews before you decide whether to read this novel, unless you read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and loved it so much that you could hardly wait for Book #2 to be published. In that case, download it now and have a great time!
Can’t wait to read it?
The Last American Vampire was published on January 13, 2015, so it’s available now from your favorite online bookseller below (or in the right column for iBooks).
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