The Fictional Hockey League

Critiquing hockey romance novels, of which there are many. Overthinking it is the point.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Surprise! “Rejoice: A Burden”: Part Two

So, when we left our ‘hero’ (you’ll understand the quotes later), he’d just been part of a shoot-out win, despite being pretty much drunk on home-made, absinthe-laden cough medicine. He and his fiancée, (Br)Anna, head to the team Christmas party and despite having been told not to drink by the trainer (who gave him the home-made booze-meds), he can’t resist the cloudberry flavored koskenkorva vodka. My research (read: Wikipedia. Don’t tell my students) tells me that Koskenkorva is actually a brand and thus ought to be capitalized and that it’s the most common vodka in Finland. It does seem to come in multiple flavors, but not cloudberries. Unless cloudberries = Nordic berries, which the Kosekenkorva website lists but won’t actually let me click on. Apparently it doesn’t believe that I’m over 21 despite putting in my birthdate. 

The point is, between the vodka (which Arttu lets a friend lie to (Br)Anna for him, saying it’s only white wine) and the cough medicine, he gets pretty tipsy and decides to take a nap on a couch. This is important because while he’s asleep, something shows up and kidnaps (Br)Anna.

But because he’s asleep, we (the readers) don’t get to see it. And the description given by the teammates isn’t exactly detailed. So that’s irritating and part of why I don’t like first-person narratives, particularly ones that are written with less skill than they could be.

So Arrtu wakes up to find Vále in wolf form. Apparently many people have left, all at once, but they are then not mentioned again, whoever “they” were or why they left.

Steve, a rookie forward stood with his wife and they both held thin swords (43%, missing commas original).

Apparently Steve is Jack Frost.  I don’t know why that entails having a sword, slender or otherwise. His wife, it turns out, is “springtime in a chick’s body” (46%). I have zero idea.

Our captain, Shawn Murphy sat on the floor holding his nose, trying to stop it from bleeding. His new girlfriend looked at me and then her lips pulled back from extremely sharp teeth. I knew all sorts of odd and magical beings played for the Nor’easters, but Nimah’s teeth gave me pause (43%, missing commas original).

She turns out to be a selkie. All of this information is handed out in a clunky paragraph because apparently Arttu didn’t know. On one hand, the text didn’t take the time to earlier work this information in with subtlety but on the other hand felt it was important enough information that the story needs to have it. Except that other than Rose, the one who is apparently the embodiment of spring, it’s entirely irrelevant to the rest of the story.

Also? With all those magical creatures on one hockey team, you’d think that a) they’d win every single game and b) that this would be a more interesting story. Also, there’s no werehyenas listed. I was promised werehyenas.

Anyway, Joulupukki apparently kidnapped (Br)Anna. This is apparently either Santa Claus or a “yule goat.” Essentially this is a wild man who comes to “take bad children and beat them, or eat them or drag them to Hell” (46%) according to the text. So basically Krampus? I can’t find anything online to support this, but here, have a photo of a giant Swedish yule goat:

I find that the rest of this story is far more amusing if you picture the bad guy as a giant goat. Or, if you prefer, I did find online that the Joulupukki is sometimes accompanied by gnomes. That’s fun, too.

Mixed mythology aside, Arttu protests that (Br)Anna is neither bad nor a child, but other people points out that she used magic on people without their consent (see post #1), so apparently Arttu was right and that came back to bite them in the ass. Except then he compares (Br)Anna’s magical compelling music to the team captain’s praying, saying he doesn’t share his (Christian) beliefs and therefore doesn’t want to be prayed for. And I say apples to oranges, dude.

Vále and his girlfriend, also a werewolf, go out to look for (Br)Anna while the rest of the team takes Arttu home to put on a movie. What the hell?! Your fiancée is missing and your response is to go home, admittedly moping and crying, and watch a [expletive] movie?! Yes, let the werewolves do the work while you kick back and watch a film.

Fortunately for Arttu, the werewolves do, in fact, find (Br)Anna. She’s being held by the nuuttipukki along with another prisoner and they’re enclosed in a force field in a graveyard. The team drives to said Salem graveyard (because of course it’s in Salem), where the nuuttipukki is beating the two captives. Arttu begs with the nuuttipukki for a while from outside the forcefield, which does nothing particularly helpful.

Then Nimah-the-selkie shows up and says they can banish the nuuttipukki by calling for holy water. And since she’s a selkie, she can fill the forcefield with sea water (because magic) and apparently any water becomes holy if you pray over it to any god, so Arttu prays, and the nuuttipukki pops the forcefield and disappears.

So that was anticlimactic.

Of course, the fact that they filled the damn forcefield with water means that (Br)Anna has basically drowned. That’s not me being snarky; that’s actually what happened. So Rose-the-Springtime-Incarnate shows up and says she’ll give Arttu’s breath to (Br)Anna, and of course he says yes, do it. She does this by creating pollen and covering Arttu’s face so that he can’t breathe until he passes out.

When he wakes up, (Br)Anna does too. They hug and she starts singing “Gaudete” at him until he panics because that’s what got her in trouble in the first place. So apparently the nuuttipukki shows up and kidnaps bad children but doesn’t tell them what they did wrong to deserve being beaten, eaten, and/or dragged to hell? That’s pretty stupid.

Anyway, (Br)Anna and Arttu go home, go to sleep, then get up to go on a bike ride with some guy who rents an apartment from them. Along the way, the two of them discover that they can feel what the other is physically feeling, presumably because of the whole sharing breath thing. Yay? Then they get to the destroyed ruins of their arena where it turns out the rest of the team is also standing out. Because apparently the best Christmas present of all is that the other guy that the nuuttipukki had kidnapped (for reasons never specified) is super rich and to thank the team for his rescue, he’s going to rebuild the arena and possibly buy the team so that they can stay.

Good thing it’s the Pan-Am league (whatever that is) and not the NHL, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a Coyotes fan it’s that it is not particularly easy to buy a hockey team, even if you have the money.

The story ends with (Br)Anna singing at mass again but this time without magic.

The end.

I feel so ripped off. It’s an anticlimactic story with incredibly little characterization or action or wit, and there were precisely zero werehyenas. WHERE WERE MY WEREHYENAS? And as I said before, for a story that has this many magical creatures in it (although apparently for all that Arttu uses magic, according to him, we never see him do any) it was really boring.

(Okay, I seem to have figured out part of the problem. The werehyenas are actually on a different team. But since all the stories are in one anthology, I had assumed they were all on the same team. Or at least in the same universe. Apparently not. So the Pan-Am League is all magical? I have no idea.)

Anyway, MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE FHL. We’ll return to Her Man Advantage next time. At least those Finns are just bikers instead of werewolves.

(ACTUALLY! come back tomorrow (YES, CHRISTMAS DAY!) for another Christmas bonus! An *adorkable* one!)

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