Author: Grady Hendrix
No. of Pages: 256
Origins: Quirk Books
Release Date: 23 September 2014
Bottom Line: You’ll never think of big box shopping the same way again!
“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-first century 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!”
Thoughts: While Horrorstör is supposed to be a horror story, anyone who has ever shopped at a certain Swedish furniture store and purchased furniture from there will appreciate Mr. Hendrix’s satire about the future of big-box shopping experiences. In fact, certain elements of the story are outright funny. Readers might feel uncomfortable chuckling at the humor behind the horror, but they will do it nonetheless because Mr. Hendrix captures the experience of such stores with biting accuracy. Everything about such stores, from the deliberate lack of windows, meandering floor plans, pithy slogans, staging, and the like garner his scrutiny, and his snide commentary makes for some amusing statements in the throes of all of the suspense.
Horrorstör is a visual delight. Filled with catalog pages, signs for the employees, bathroom wall graffiti, and floor plans, readers obtain a greater appreciation for Mr. Hendrix’s commentary when they feel as if they are part of the Orsk family. Indeed, one loses a sense of camaraderie without the visuals. The graffiti is not quite as menacing, the floor plan is not as innocuous, and the furniture is less threatening when one must use one’s imagination. This is all necessary for the horrors to come; without the visuals, the suspense level is not nearly as high as it should be. For this reason, it is one of the few novels where it might not translate quite as well to an audio format as a traditional novel.
To appreciate the atmosphere of the novel, one must read it in the proper setting. It is a novel best consumed in solitude and/or at night to capture the essence of the story. Conversely, sitting in a similar boxy horror surrounded by humanity – like an airplane – will reduce the apprehension and the fear one should feel reading this novel. Instead, that experience only heightens that satire because one understands exactly what it feels like to be trapped inside a structure with no clear exit strategy. Those readers who may be hesitating to read Horrorstör because of the horror may enjoy it more should they read it during the day, while traveling or on a shopping break, as it creates a completely different feel to the book than reading it in the dead of night in a silent house.
The story itself is not surprising in any way. It progresses at a quick pace with almost no character development or exposition. In many ways, it is a stereotypical horror story in which Mr. Hendrix gleefully implements all of the trademarks of such stories. Rather than causing issues for readers though because of its predictability or penchant for formulaic plot development, one can appreciate the story for what it is – a social commentary on modern-day marketing and retail sales. It has its moments of intense terror and gruesome discoveries, but mostly, readers will appreciate the tale of soulless big box shopping and its adoption of buzz words and phrases that serve to hide its true capitalistic nature.