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"He was Legend"
on 19 August 2010
Basically this is a mixture of fiction and biography. The style reads more like a biography for much of the book and as wikipedia would reveal there is a lot of accurate biographical detail. Seth Grahame Smith has taken Abraham Lincoln's life and added vampires to the mix in a similar way to his addition of Zombies to Pride & Prejudice (although this is darker than Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and possibly would have benefitted from some more humour)
As an example Abe's mother died of "milk fever", when he was still quite young but in the novel he later learns that this is a cover for her death at the hands of a vampire his father owed money to. This starts his pledge to rid the world of vampires.
He has helpers most of them friends but also there is an ambbigous figure in his vampire mentor Henry. By the end of the book you may still be pondering the motivations of Henry who challenges Lincoln's prejudices toward vampires and tempts him with the possibility of resurrecting loved ones (a feature of Smith's vampires is the short window after death for them to revive someone as a vampire).
Despite the help he comes across as a rather tragic loner, not unlike Robert Neville in the wonderful vampire novel I am Legend by Richard Matheson. He is also exceptionally bloodthirsty when it comes to despatching vampires, although the carnage of the Civil War greatly saddens him.
There are several points where the vampire story takes a backseat to the real life of Lincoln and these are as enjoyable as the rest of the book.
There is an introduction of the "How I found the secret documents which are genuine honest gov" variety and I'm afraid I always find these cheesy, but it does lead to a few notes in the text explaining what Abe is referring to a little like in the Flashman novels.
What may be a sticking point for some people is the connection of vampires to slavery. They did not cause it but support and encourage it for their own ends. I think this was necessary to prevent it losing importance as a driving force in Lincoln's life but some may find it tasteless to add the fantasy element to such an important part of American history. I think that Smith has covered this by having Abe against slavery before learning the connection to vampires and by leaving many of his original sentiments intact.
If you do not like the idea of changing a justly important Historical figure as Abraham Lincoln, then this is not for you but if you are happy provided something of the real man remains and enjoy dark vampire novels, then I recommend it. I know I learned a bit about the real man alongside the adventure.