The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
When I first started this book, I really enjoyed it — the alternating viewpoints, the sly digs each young woman got in at her fellow students while proclaiming her own virtues, the different backgrounds of the girls. But somewhere around the 50% mark, the same things I enjoyed at the beginning started to annoy me. When I began to want to reach into the story and slap certain characters upside the head for their sheer pettiness and lack of sense, it was time to set the story down. I didn’t really care what happened to the girls, or their schoolmistresses, or the young man. I figure it was not a happy ending for him, because up to the point I laid the story down for good, he never got his own chapter to speak his piece. I may still watch the movie. This one might be the exception — where the movie is better than the book.
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Four of five stars
Seth Grahame-Smith follows up the simply marvelous Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with this fun, gory twist on vampires as a driving force in world history.
When Abraham Lincoln was a child, his mother was killed by vampires: his father’s punishment for defaulting on a loan from a vampire. This tragedy galvanized young Abe into swearing vengeance on vampirekind and provided the impetus for his subsequent efforts at building his strength, stamina, and fighting skills.
Aided by Henry, a vampire who early on convinced Abe that he wasn’t one of the vampires who needed killing, and by other friends met along the way, Lincoln embarks upon his quest, traveling the Mississippi by flatboat and taking care of business, personal and otherwise, along the way. As time goes on, he becomes convinced that slavery is the chief evil which supports the vampires. And he goes into politics.
Grahame-Smith gleefully combines historical details from Lincoln’s life with the fantasy of a United States secretly controlled by vampires, especially in the slaveholding South, and weaves together an entirely believable tale. It’s great fun for the most part, but Grahame-Smith does not gloss over Lincoln’s deep sorrow and that of his wife Mary over the tragedy of their lost children. In this reality, however, these losses can be laid almost entirely at the feet of the vampire.
Smashing good read.