Summary Review: A quirky adventure into the holy grail called ice hockey which makes fun of the sport and produces lots of laughs.
Nicholas is just a hockey player. That little accident in a dark alley in Calgary, that left him with a yen for blood, might have slowed him down a bit, but in the end, Nickie’s not changed much. Well, except when it comes to his away-game roommate, star left winger Peter Nicolai.
Blood on the Ice has to be one of the funniest, quirkiest sports stories that I have read.
Nickie is an enforcer in the NHL which means, if you don’t follow hockey, he’s a big guy who is paid lots of money to smash into players on the opposing team while on the ice, to prevent them from scoring, and he also protects the scorers on his team. Most enforcers are not supposed to be intelligent and Nickie is the stereotype who runs true to form. He’s very effective at his job, especially since he was bitten by a vampire while searching for his lucky socks. Now that he’s one of the undead there’s no stopping him at his game. As a side benefit of his condition, with his enhanced senses he can smell when someone is aroused and he’s developed unusual appetites. You would expect that with his vampire heightened senses he would be able to figure out that Petey was just panting for him, but he’s so dumb it’s almost too late when the light bulb in his head goes on. What’s a rough, tough hockey player to do?
Petey is a left winger on the team (he’s a scorer) and he’s Nickie’s roommate. We don’t hear from him except indirectly because this book is Nickie’s first person account of the events that occurred since he was bitten, so although Petey is well drawn we don’t know much about his life other than he has the hots for Nickie and is failing in his job to score goals for his team, which could get him fired.
I love the sly humour in the book and the shots at hockey’s sacred cows. For example, here’s some of the prose when Nickie describes himself
I’m the meat at the end of a fist, what you fans call an enforcer, and that’s okay with me. I’ve got stitches in body parts I can’t even pronounce the names of. Most of my teeth sit in a cup by my bed at night. There’s a crack in my skull that the doc takes pictures of now and then to see if it’s widening, like one day my brains might just pop out there on the ice. And you know what? If they did I’d probably not even notice.
Nickie’s ‘voice’ is ironic, unassuming, not very intelligent, humble (despite his achievements on the ice) and he pokes fun at himself all the time. He acknowledges that everything is over his head and he’s just barely coping, but the one person he cares about is his teammate and roommate Petey.
You will have a good time with this short excursion on the ice with Nickie and Petey – I had no idea that A.M. Riley had such a wicked sense of humour. Whether or not you know anything about hockey, or even care if there’s such a game, you will enjoy Blood on the Ice. Definitely recommended.