First off, this review comes from someone who did not grow up in the United States and thus knows virtually nothing of Abe Lincoln’s life (other than he was involved in a war that had something to do with civility… probably). Thus, distinguishing historically accurate facts from elements exclusive to the subtle tongue-in-cheek narrative was difficult at times, but that has little impact on the brunt of the narrative.
Now, I am all for reimaginings and reinterpretations of pretty much anything. A fresh view and opinion of something can help someone who’s familiar with it see it in a completely different light. However, something that this book has helped prove for me is that there are such things as reimaginings that are taken too far, or, more appropriately in this case, not far enough.
This book reads like a history textbook. At first it is all well and good, as it helps someone who, like me, is completely unfamiliar with the history of Abe Lincoln, get a grip on things. However, as the book goes on, this style keeps it focus on remaining mostly faithful to the historical aspect of things, which seems like it should be fine, but it can get a tad jarring when you realise that this very style is keeping the book from telling its own story.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but this book is labeled as a novel. The edition I have has “fantasy/horror” printed right on the spine. Maybe I’m crazy, but this leads me to believe that within this book there lies a story with a setup, climax and conclusion that was thought up by the author himself, something that goes a little further than a systematic re-writing of an already existing tale.
I’m not necessarily encouraging people to go crazy with this kind of thing, since I have seen it done horribly wrong at the other end of things, with the author overinduling in their own story and making the history lesson seem appealing by comparison (*coughThe Historiancough*), but as I said before, when writing about this kind of thing, there is definitely a balance to be found.
Apparently, the author has a new book coming out before too long, as evidenced by the preview found at the end of my edition. Since that one apears to be based on the Bible or at least its setting, something that I like to think isn’t quite as well-documented or set in stone as Honest Abe’s story, I might be willing to give it a chance.
After reading this, though, I wouldn’t say you’d find me screaming for it.