Diamond Eyes Book Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
DIAMOND EYES
A. A. Bell
 
 

Review Information

Reviewer: David Murcott
Review Date: Feb 2011

Book Information

Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: $19.95

7

out of 10

 

 

Mira Chambers is in her early twenties, blind, and has been institutionalised for as long as she can remember.  She’s taken to wearing a crude blindfold ever since another inmate, at Mira’s insistence, sowed her eyes shut, and the merest hint of light is enough to set off a series of spontaneous and often highly traumatic visions.  These are, of course, summarily dismissed as hallucinations by the autocratic Matron Sanchez, who is strictly from the Nurse Ratched school of mental health care, and the prescribed treatment is usually a hefty dose of sedatives followed by several well-timed taser prods. 

It takes a kindly new aide, ex-con Ben Chiron, to peel through the layers of vulnerability and explore his patient’s supposed gift of second sight.  A small team of government scientists are equally interested in Mira’s prescience (and her singular, crystalline eyes that give the book its title), though their investigation barely gets underway before someone starts bumping off those involved. The hapless Mira, with the assistance of her dashing aide, is then forced to match wits with a dangerous killer in an attempt to stave off further bloodshed. 

Diamond Eyes is an unsettling, slightly uneven but eminently satisfying opening gambit from Australian newcomer A.A. Bell, and as the novel progresses the first-time author deftly weaves an atmosphere of near-claustrophobic intensity.  The suspense-filled narrative is complimented by Bell’s distinct flair for the dramatic, and though Mira is an unlikely choice of heroine she ultimately proves more than worthy of the role. 

I did have a couple of minor complaints.  Mira’s transformation from doped-up dullard to erudite, insightful and presumably misdiagnosed victim of institutionalisation, for example, feels even more unconvincing than Mr Darcy’s impromptu turn of heart in Pride and Prejudice.  One minute she is capable of such an astonishing outburst of lucidity that Matron Sanchez immediately gets on the blower to order a complete overhaul of her treatment, yet just ten pages later she’s back to being something of a blockhead, mumbling ‘Affir-what?’ in confusion after another character utters the arcane word ‘affirmation.’  The occasional florid bit of prose (‘time rippled over its own threshold’) also falls flat, but more often than not the densely evocative images are used to good effect, as when our heavily sedated protagonist drifts in and out of consciousness ‘like a leaf floating on a black sea under a starless sky.’   

Minor quibbles aside, however, there’s no denying Diamond Eyes is an ambitious, skilfully crafted and highly enjoyable debut outing.






 
 



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