Agony Column Home
Agony Column Review Archive

Eye Killers

A. A. Carr

University of Oklahoma Press

US Hardcover First

ISBN 0-8061-2707-4

344 pages; 24.00

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2001



More than most monster myths, the vampire legend allows itself to be adapted into new cultural arenas. In A. A. Carr's 'Eye Killers', the legend of the European vampire is viewed from the vantage of what is left of contemporary American Indian tribes. The result is a hallucinatory novel in which cultures, ancient and new-born, clash in a stark desertscape dotted with run-down cities. 'Eye Killers' demonstrates the power of language, the power of things named and the power of the roles our words create for us. It also demonstrates the thin line between visionary prose and confusing plotlines.

'Eye Killers' opens with a particularly effective description Falke, a thousand year-old vampire, awakening beneath the sands of a New Mexico mesa. Falke finds himself drawn to Melissa Roanhorse, a 16 year-old teenager trying to cope with peer pressure and a dissolute, apathetic mother. When she goes missing from school, her teacher, Diana Logan, unable to contect her mother, manages to find her grandfather, Michael Roanhorse, who still remembers fragments of old songs and ceremonies his grandmother showed him.

Carr does a superb job of bringing Michael and Diana to life while effectively decribing the unending death endured by Falke and his two female apostles, Hanna and Elizabeth. He writes striking surreal descriptions of the supernatural, pressing the novel into a permananet dream-state. His landscapes are beautiful and evocative, be they stark desert mesas or sleazy suburban tract homes.

Unfortunately, his dreamlike transitions occasionally leave the reader confused, and at times it seems as if the novel was edited by an unfriendly hand. For some readers, these transitions will work, but others will be scratching their heads and flipping back the pages.

There's no doubt that Carr can write powerfully from the first paragraph to the lonely apocalytpic visions that close the novel. His characters are complex and full of independant life, and he has a real flair for the supernatural and the surreal. 'Eye Killers' is certainly an unusual evocation of the vampire, and Carr, a Navajo and laguna Pueblo makes the fragmented splinters of an ancient heritage shine like splinters of glass in the desert sun. 'Eye Killers', despite some flaws, is an excellent and original work in a field saturated with undead unoriginality.