I bought this fair-condition hardcover at the Humane Society for Greater Nashua annual fund-raising yard sale. I'd been mildly amused by Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which kicked off the monster-mashup craze that has seen many other classic (and out-of-copyright) novels being merged with zombies, vampires, werewolves, etc. I found the titles more amusing than the actual books in most cases, but there have been some successes, as in the stories in Classics Mutilated. I wouldn't have bought this book at retail prices, but as a dollar-a-book buy at a yard sale for a good cause, I figured I'd give it a shot!
Later: I enjoyed the book quite a bit, though one aspect of the story struck a very sour note for me - more on that later. The book opens with the author describing a terrifying scene in which someone whom he'd thought to be a long-time acquaintance presents him with the journals he's about to re-tell for us, and reveals frightening secrets... It's all presented as if it really happened to the author this way, lending it a personal note (and a shoutout to Interview with the Vampire as well!).
The book unfolds as a (mostly) straightforward biography of Lincoln, including actual excerpts from his papers - but with increasing examples of dark powers at work.
Eventually, Lincoln encounters actual vampires and finds himself fighting them - and after a particularly bloody battle in which he did not fare very well, he meets Henry Sturges, the man who handed over the journals to the author in the beginning - and a vampire himself. Asked why Henry didn't kill Lincoln when he had the chance, he says "Some people are just too interesting to kill," and this fascination with Lincoln lasts a very long time...
There are some intriguing elements to Henry's story as well as to his interactions with Lincoln, including discussions on the perils of immortality and the value of human life. He doesn't stay with Lincoln all the time, but they write to each other, and when Lincoln begins his career as an active vampire hunter he often consults with Henry.
Other historical characters turn up as well, including known friends of Lincoln's (of course) but also Edgar Allan Poe; I don't know if he ever met Lincoln in real life, but here they exchange some melancholy conversation on the topic of vampirism.
The story follows Lincoln through his early career, his entry into politics, and the Civil War - and to Ford's Theater, with some interesting twists on the backgrounds of Booth and his fellow conspirators. And, overall, I found the whole storyline interesting - and some of the carefully-doctored historical images add to the tale.
The sour note? Well, two, actually; first, the book uses Lincoln's very real personal tragedies to bolster the vampire-slayer part of the story - a risk of using a real person's biography for this kind of mashup. And what felt even worse, it shifted almost the entirety of the slavery issue into a side-effect of vampiric activity, with more emphasis on banning slavery as a means of depriving the vampires of food sources rather than of helping the slaves themselves... Granted, if there were vampires during the 1800's, slavery would be a very useful way of maintaining a food supply, but I'd have been happier if the book hadn't focused on that aspect quite so much.
[The TV Tropes page for this book has some entertaining items. And I see that there's a film adaptation in progress, slated for release in 2012...]