Book Review: Blood on the Ice

It’s been a while since I posted, but it’s summer vacation. Training camp for hockey starts soon, which means that maybe something will bump Tim Tebow off the sports pages.


I know, I couldn’t hold a straight face after that either.

Anyways, over the summer I actually read a lot. One book I read was 1861: A Civil War awakening by Adam Goodheart. It was a very good book, albeit not the one I’m going to talk about today. You see it was a very good book, but also a very involved, intense, and sombering book. After reading that I needed something light-heatred, fun and maybe just a touch campy. Luckily after 1861 I read Blood On the Ice ($2.99 on Kindle, and Nook) by Ian Thomas Healy (who is, by the way, a pretty big Avalanche fan)

The book turned into a desert preceded by my 1861 main course.  It’s the story of a man trying to work his way up the hockey ladder by starting out in the lowest rung of professional hockey when his town and team slowly gets invaded by hockey playing vampires. Now after writing that sentence there’s pretty much only two ways this book can go; The book can be an over-written pretentious hodgepodge of slick words and faux symbolism porclaiming wisdom, but really nonsense, (like an old Soundgarden song) written by some wanna be poet who takes himself too seriously.  OR it can be a fun entertaining read that works fairly ridiculous premise with a decent story that’s self-aware of it’s own campiness and pokes light fun at everything from low level hockey, small towns, puck bunnies, action books, vampires, the recent wave of vampire books, and most especially itself.

Thankfully this book is the latter. The book respects its own plot, but is self-aware enough to poke fun at the very things it is about. This self-awareness actually gives the book an endearing charm. It’s never going to win a Pulitzer or Nobel (Sorry Ian) but it’s a fun little read if you have some free time and want an escape from the world. And sometimes those are the best stories. I can almost see Bruce Campbell signing up to narrate the audio-book version now.

I will warn you, if you are deeply Christian you may get offended at a few parts of this book. Healy plays with the Vampire Mythos quite a bit, and since Vampire Mythos is heavily intertwined with Chritianity (crosses, holy water, etc) he has play with Christian mythos to make it work.  I could easily see more devout and serious Christians not appreciating his liberal changing of their history. 

The Fighting Aardvarks of the ficticious Western Canada Professional Hockey League have a player by the name of Hamisch Hamlisch, “Hammie” for short. Hammie is stuck in a relationship with a girl he can’t stand which is fine because he can ignore her and focus completely on trying to make his hockey game a lot better so he can make the NHL someday. He goes to practice, works hard, drinks and tries to keep his car running in the cold Western Canadian winter. Then his team gets infected by vampires. (He’s immune for some reason that I won’t spoil for you. It’s creative and explained in the book)

A good action book is like a good road trip. You know where you’re going, and even kind of how you’re getting there, but it’s the way you get there that differentiates itself. In fact, if I had a complaint about the book it’s that this setup was probably a bit too long. I picked up a book about hockey playing vampires, I know where it’s going and it doesn’t need to take so long to get there. That said, I thought Healy did a good job with communicating Hammie’s emotions getting there, from shock and disbelief to puzzlement to being freightened, to a heightened sense of isolated frustration. All the emotions any normal person might go through, if they were confronted with the realization that their team, or co-workers or whatever, were actually vampires. He also becomes closer with a girl he has knwon since forever and had deceptively big knockers.

Healy does a good job shepherding us along this slightly absurd journey. He bends the vampire mythos and rules a lot, but he explains it away rather well and you want to believe it since it’s a fun book. Healy, throws in a few Avalanche references along the way (although I do believe there’s one Red Wings reference. And it’s not an analogy to the devil, so he loses some points there).

Another criticism is the ending. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll say this as genericlly as I can. I thought he had a great ending lined up, one I didn’t see coming, and then he threw a huge monkey wrench in at the last second that I thought was just a little over the top, even for a book such as this one.

Overall though I’d describe this book as enjoyable.