Author: Grady Hendrix
Publisher: Quirk Books
First Published: September 23, 2014
Genres: Dark Comedy, Horror, Paranormal
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
Retail work has to be one of the most thankless and draining jobs out there, the term ‘retail hell’ is the common description for what it’s like to work retail for a mega corporation. Many of us have worked soul-sucking retail jobs at some point, but Horrorstör makes the hell of working in retail literal.
I could identify with the sarcastic and apathetic Amy, a character type often seen in stories about retail work. She feels trapped in an endless loop with no hope of ever climbing up the corporate ladder and has become embittered by it. She’s surrounded by co-workers she can barely tolerate and an uptight corporate lapdog boss. Her frustration with her lack of social mobility is palpable. I appreciated Basil and Ruth Anne for the commentary they provide about America’s obsession with work and tendency to make work our entire identity. The other characters however I could care less about, they were so obnoxious my enjoyment of the story actually went down.
One of the highlight features of this book is that it is designed to look like an IKEA catalog. The entire story revolves around Orsk, a shallow American rip-off of IKEA. The biting satire of this book about the homogenizing force of retail being akin to prison is not subtle but it is on point. It takes the story a while to really get going, but once it does golly does it spin wildly out of control! It’s a relatively fast read although it drags a bit, by the second half of the novel the thrill ride is worth waiting for. There are definitely some chilling scenes that made me squirm and it was just plain fun.
“No eyes, no mouth, no nose, no humanity; their individuality rubbed out.”
Trigger Warning: Violence, Gore, Torture, Death