Published by Quirk Books on September 23rd, 2014
Genres: horror, paranormal
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Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Columbus, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Brooka glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofa beds clearly, someone or something is up to no good.
To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-till-dawn shift—and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new twenty-firstcentury economy.
A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting (and full of current fears), Horrorstör comes conveniently packaged in the form of a retail catalog, complete with illustrations of ready-to-assemble furniture and other, more sinister accessories. We promise you’ve never seen anything quite like it!
I’ve wanted to read Horrorstor immediately after hearing about it. I loved the quirky concept and just the premise in general. A horror story set inside of an Ikea, or in this case, an Orsk: a knock off of Ikea with even cheaper products. I wasn’t expecting much from the book itself, honestly, but I thought it would be a really fun read. And I was totally into the design.
So, this book is designed like a catalog. Even the shape and the feel of it reminds me of a catalog. The opening pages are all the things you’d see in say, an employee handbook. There’s goofy encouraging statements and quip little mottoes. There’s a map of the store and things like that. Each chapter is headed by a small insert on some piece of their furniture. And even within the narrative itself, we stop every once in a while for a short briefing on something, like the Bright and Shining path that winds through the store, or a description of some shelving unit.
Horrorstor starts out very funny. This is, after all, a parody. If you’ve ever worked in retail, you will relate to this humor for sure. A lot of “not my responsibility” and sycophantic dedication to store policy in here. I thought for sure that we were going to stay in the horror-comedy zone, but once the creepy bits start picking up, there isn’t much outright humor. There is humor to find in some situations, particularly the manager’s dedication to Orsk and his insistence on following the handbooks to a T – even when there is possibly a back-from-the-dead prison warden running around their store. Even when they enter a portal to the old prison itself. Basil sticks to procedure one hundred percent.
I was surprised by how deep the characters were. If you’ve ever watched a horror movie or read a scary book, you’ll know that character development generally comes in second place to the plot. But Horrorstor paid special attention to its characters’ backstories that kind of made the book special, in my opinion. Amy, the main character, is 24 years old and she’s struggling under a mountain of debt, living pay check to 4 days before the next paycheck. Her trials are something I think all us millennials can relate to. And Basil had his own surprising story, too. All the characters in this book were given depth and care, which I appreciated a lot.
The writing is where Horrorstor truly fell flat. There is a whole lot telling and not much showing at all. And it was bland and dry. I thought it could use some tightening up, especially when characters were actually doing something. Amy didn’t crawl through the furniture toward the Bright and Shining path. No. She began to crawl through the furniture toward the Bright and Shining path. Clunky word choices and phrasing like this slowed down the momentum of the story. I found myself sort of skimming over a lot of it, especially in the middle, because it was so repetitive and boring.
So Horrorstor gets points for interesting/funny plotting, surprisingly rich characters, and of course, for awesome design. This book will make a great gift for the upcoming holidays; its humor is sure to strike with many people out there, and its design will be an awesome conversation starter.