Monday, August 14, 2017
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
There are two things in literature/movies that scare me more than any other horror tropes: werewolves (because not being in control of my body is a terror of mine) and haunted houses (because they are just horrifying.) Horrorstor, by Grady Hendrix, while blessedly free of werewolves, tells a traditional haunted house horror tale albeit in a unique and modern setting.
Amy is a retail worker at Orsk, the IKEA-like chain store of home furnishings with a cult like philosophy. Her life is one endless rat race of struggling to make ends meet and to break away from the life where she grew up. Adding to her everyday stresses are the rumors that Orsk is cutting down on their staff. Behind on rent and drowning in student loan debt, she can't afford to lose her job. So when her by-the-books manager, Basil, asks her and another employee to stay for some overnight overtime, Amy quickly agrees. Someone has been vandalizing the store after hours and they plan on catching the culprit on an all night patrol. At best, they'll catch the vandal, at worst, they'll have wasted a night. What they don't know, what they could never imagine are the horrors that await them inside the walls of the shiny big box store.
It is difficult to talk too much more about the plot without giving away spoilers, so I won't. Instead let me tell you how I was so very deeply creeped out by this book. I had to be in a well lit room, in the presence of at least one other person to read it! The four stars I've given it are in large part for the story and the mood. A traditional haunted house with accompanying backstory is told but the clever changing of the setting from house to store makes this a standout horror tale. It gives an air of satire. From the moment we enter the front door of the Ohio Orsk store, the feeling of dread stays with us. And it is a dread that is multi-layered...taking a cue from Romero's critiques of consumerism. Orsk and its employees are at once every day people in an every day place as well as zombies on their way to a corporate prison. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how superb the design of the book is. It is modeled exactly like an IKEA catalog, complete with product descriptions, which get stranger and more macabre with every passing chapter.
If you enjoy satire, being creeped the ef out, and clever conceptual books, this is one for you. Caveat: it gets pretty gory so you should expect some stark, violent, and disturbing imagery.