Saturday, 14 March 2015

Monster Era

I've said before that I don't like politics unless they're interesting. And by interesting, I mean ultra-violent and filled with bloodthirsty monsters. Needless to say that I was extremely excited to read Seth Grahame-Smith's The Last American Vampire, the sequel to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which had me spellbound from start to finish. Whether you like history, vampires, or spy thrillers, this is the book for you.

The book is filled with excellent photo manipulations, but this one is my favorite.

In Reconstruction-era America, vampire Henry Sturges is searching for renewed purpose in the wake of his friend Abraham Lincoln's shocking death. It will be an expansive journey that will first send him to England for an unexpected encounter with Jack the Ripper, then to New York City for the birth of a new American century, the dawn of the electric era of Tesla and Edison, and the blazing disaster of the 1937 Hindenburg crash. Along the way, Henry goes on the road in a Kerouac-influenced trip as Seth Grahame-Smith ingeniously weaves vampire history through Russia's October Revolution, the First and Second World Wars, and the JFK assassination.
The plot follows Henry Sturges, still mourning the death of his good friend Abraham Lincoln, across the world as the peaceful vampire Union is being targeted by someone from the inside. As the world continues to change, Henry meets new friends and makes new enemies– everyone from Tesla and Twain to Rasputin and Hitler. Not only does he fight in brutal battles and wars, the connection to this killer may have links to Henry's past, and the parts of it he wishes to forget.

There was no part of this book that I didn't like. The effort made by Grahame-Smith is evident in the detail he put into the research, not just the events but how the historical figures would react. One of my favorite confrontations was with Rasputin, who definitely fits the mantle of a crazed vampire.

Though I have to admit, Henry's history was the biggest selling point for me. It was really entertaining to read about the vampire who helped shape the world, how he became what he is, and the people in his long life who helped bring him through various trials and dangers. There was a scene involving the infamous Hindenburg crash that I'm sure I'll remember for a long time, and just for a second, it makes the reader wonder more about what happened that fateful day.

If the cover was any indication, this is not a book for anyone unprepared for an extreme level of violence. The vampires in this story are incredibly strong and absolutely savage in a fight, literally capable of ripping their enemies apart or breaking bones in a single strike. The descriptions involving Jack the Ripper are some of the most gruesome images I'll ever read, but they weren't necessarily the most memorable. There were moments described by Grahame-Smith that are so visceral and real that they made me shudder upon reading them.

Grahame-Smith writes with an interesting and smooth technique, slipping from third person to first, often in the same page. Yet it never feels like you're being taken out of the story. The action is intense and wild, the intrigue complex and thorough. I've always been a fan of Grahame-Smith work, and would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys vampires and alternate history novels. The story is exceptional, and after reading it, one can't help but wonder (if only for a moment) if there really were unseen hands moving the pieces of history, and helping shape the world we know.


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