Hockey 30 Days of Night in Canada

A Review of Sudden Death Overtime by Steve Vernon (Crossroad Press, 2012)

By Derek Newman-Stille

In his Sudden Death Overtime, Steve Vernon creates an unusual cast of characters in an epic battle on and off the ice. Vernon takes a group of old Newfoundland hockey players from a small, one-pub town and faces them against an encroaching threat of outsiders. These outsiders are not just non-Newfoundlanders, they aren’t even human. What better way to deal with vampires (known for their teeth) than to face them against old hockey players (known for their absence of teeth)?

Vernon sets his book in a town where it seems like everything is being lost: people moving away, families being broken down, and the population beset with disappointment and boredom. The town is being sucked dry by outsiders, and then, enter the vampire, literally praying on the population. Vernon does a great job of setting the scene of a depressed town, but his sense of humour lifts his reader above the ice of crushing depression, often combining both humour with sobering pain and sympathy in one sentence: “The time passed as slowly as a year of chronic constipation.” Vernon’s writing is sanguine in both senses of the word: both good and bloody.

Sudden Death Overtime captures the action and excitement of a hockey game, bringing to life the movement and power of the game as well as the masculine power play and the taunts on ice that any hockey player knows all too well. Vampires become an extension of the ice, something to be conquered by the game. Their teeth are “icicle-long and winter sharp” and they melt like slush when conquered by some supernatural stick-handling.

Steve Vernon’s protagonists, veering away from the traditional descriptions of the old, are not weak, old, powerless men, but are rather better equipped than others to deal with the dead: “They’re a pack of bloodthirsty creatures from beyond the grave… who in the hell better to fight them than a pack of old farts with one foot in the grave?” The icy fingers of death meet the icy cold of the good ol’ hockey game.

You can purchase Sudden Death Overtime for your Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Sudden-Death-Overtime-ebook/dp/B0077ZR2TS and you can check out more of Steve Vernon’s work at http://stevevernonstoryteller.wordpress.com/

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