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Vampires: love them or be sick (to death) of them

March 4, 2010 |  8:30 am

Archaeological evidence of vampires -- really? Once the venerable National Geographic got into the vampire game, it became clear that vampire lore has saturated our culture. In an episode of the show "Explorer" broadcast late last month, National Geographic looked at a skull from a recently discovered 16th century mass grave near Venice. What they found wasn't evidence of vampires themselves, but of people who seemed to have died according to the rituals and legends of how vampires should be killed.

As if that weren't enough, we now have Honest Abe as a vampire slayer. In today's paper, Gina McIntyre writes that Seth Grahame-Smith -- the man who brought us the zombie-Jane Austen mashup "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" -- has made his follow-up, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," a genuinely entertaining and worthwhile read. McIntyre writes:

Grahame-Smith's sophomore effort outlasts the kitsch value of its title, and freed from the constraints of updating (or defacing, depending on one's viewpoint) a revered literary gem, the writer delivers a well-constructed, surprisingly satisfying narrative that straight-faces its absurd premise: that Honest Abe, the 16th president of the United States, led a secret life slaying the fanged undead....

at a time when the market is flooded with vampire titles, most of them young adult romances, a writer who can transform the greatest figure from 19th century American history into the star of an original vampire tale with humor, heart and bite is a rare find indeed.

Young adult vampire romances -- right, "Twilight." Oh, you all know about "Twilight." Books from the "Twilight" saga seemed to have earned a permanent place in the Amazon top 20 bestseller list, but today they're not there. Instead, Grahame-Smith's vampire book is -- as of this writing, it's at No. 19.

Not to be left out, National Geographic has a book too: by historian Mark Collins Jenkins, it's called "Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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