HiT Book Review: ‘The Last American Vampire’

After “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” Grahame-Smith found a way to mash his distinct genre tastes with what is normally respected historical literature.

If he were a worse writer who took the whole thing a little less seriously then these mash ups wouldn’t work. Luckily, Grahame-Smith has a poetic and visual touch, and he takes the research, it seems, deathly serious.

His newest, “The Last American Vampire,” serves as a sequel of sorts to his bestseller about Lincoln moonlighting as a vampire slayer. The book again follows a fictional version of Grahame-Smith as he tries to figure out what to write next. After finding people quickly forgot about his revelations of President Lincoln and a whole world of vampires, Smith returns to his friend Henry Sturges. This is the man that originally gave Smith Lincoln’s diaries revealing the world of vampires and a secret American history.

Grahame-Smith convinces him the next book should be about an immortal vampire that has lived centuries experiencing untold amounts of American history. Sturges reluctantly agrees to share stories past the time he knew Lincoln.

Seth Grahame Smith. Photo credit David Katzenberg

Like “Lincoln,” Grahame-Smith again impresses with the amount of research he puts into his fiction. He could just as easily let the historical angle fall by the wayside and go for brainless, campy fun.

Instead, he provides a book that has a strange internal logic. This makes the camp even more engaging.

“Last American Vampire” impresses beyond the fact that it covers so much time after the Civil War.

For fans of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” this book is a definite must-read. It may, however, also be a good introduction for readers unfamiliar with Grahame-Smith’s work. Despite referencing “Lincoln” a lot, the novel stands on its own and its epic nature, vast amounts of time periods and the author’s smooth and visual writing style could convince a lot of naysayers.

The new book’s weakness is the same found in “Abraham Lincoln.” Providing a prologue with a fictional Grahame-Smith taking these stories down provides a meta nature enough to make one gag. It’s out of place with the rest of the novel.

“The Last American Vampire” is a fine genre read, and Grahame-Smith is an impressive writer if only for the fact that he’s figured out his small corner of the literary world and committed to it with full force.

DID YOU KNOW: Seth Grahame-Smith has written a script for ‘Beetlejuice 2’ and it may be one of Tim Burton’s next films.

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