Book Review: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

HorrorstorHorrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Genre: Horror

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Quirk (September 23, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Horrorstör scratched a really great itch. When it comes to the Horror genre, I’m an unabashed fan of ghost stories and books about hauntings. Thing is, because so many of them follow the same formula and use the same familiar tropes, it’s really hard find something that truly stands out. I was therefore quite excited about this novel, which is a memorable and real quirky take on your classic haunted house story.

Protagonist Amy is a disgruntled employee of furniture superstore Orsk, which is essentially a clever parody of our real world IKEA (the author has nailed it all down, everything from the proprietary magic tool to the delicious meatballs in the cafeteria). There’s something strange about this particular Orsk store though. Every morning store partners arrive at work to find damaged and vandalized goods, not to mention the creepy “HELP” messages that randomly shows up on everyone’s cellphones.

To get to the bottom of this mystery once and for all, store manager Basil recruits Amy and fellow employee Ruth Anne for an overnight shift. Expecting to find some innocuous and mundane reason for all the strange things going on, they are totally unprepared for the horrors awaiting them on showroom floor in the dead of night.

I really enjoyed this book, and its story is one that will stay with me for a very long time. After all, how often does one come across a haunted house story that takes place in a big box chain store? Old mansions are typically your go-to settings for these kinds of stories, but before I read this book it has never really occurred to me how creepy a place like your local Best Buy or Home Depot can be after store hours when all the customers have gone home and the lights go off. I certainly wouldn’t want to be locked inside all alone.

And while I’ve had experience in retail, they were all gigs in small businesses or independently owned establishments. I have never worked in a big box chain store so I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure (or misfortune, depending on your outlook) of experiencing that kind of unique environment or culture. Still, I don’t think you have to have worked in that capacity to recognize some of the “retail-speak” that gets poked fun at a lot in this novel (“It’s not just a job, it’s the rest of your life”, “communicate knowledge to visitors with maximum sales competence”, “contribute to an environment where Orsk culture is a strong and living reality” and other such gems), some of which are just downright hilarious especially through Amy’s jaded eye.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the core selling points of the physical copy of Horrorstör – the fact that it comes published in the shape and size of a glossy mail order catalog, along with product illustrations and descriptions, “coupons”, order forms and other such documents. Sound like a gimmick? Yeah, probably. But hey, it works. I give this packaging decision 10/10 for presentation and creativity.

Because of how the book looks, along with its spoofy nature, I admit I went into this thinking it would be more humor than horror. My mistake. This is a horror novel through and through. Yes, the story has its lighthearted bits and funny laugh-out-loud moments, but things quickly turn grim and spooky once the plot gets moving. There were parts that seriously gave me the heebie-jeebies and freaked me the hell out. And I confess, I loved being caught off guard like this.

What more can I say, but Horrorstör is a great addition which would add a little fun and eccentricity to any Horror lover’s library. I also think it would make a rather unique gift, especially if the recipient knows nothing about the book beforehand. The whole IKEA catalog look of it will no doubt lead many to believe it’s a joke/humor book, but what a surprise they’ll get when they crack open the cover and give it a read. Definitely a novel that will give you more than you bargained for.

4 stars

A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Quirk Books!

24 Comments on “Book Review: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix”

  1. It’s been a while since I haven’t read a horror book but it would be fun to go back to the genre and I confess that this one is quite intriguing. Plus the cover and title are so much fun. Great review!

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  2. I would have expected this book to be lighter in tone as well on account of the cover, so the horror classification kinda threw me at first. Still LOL and scary moments, plus a unique story make this title oddly appealing. Darn you Mogsy, for tempting me!!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads.

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  3. I was surprised how horrific it turned out to be-although I would call it “over the top” horror! And when I think of Quirk books, I think of interesting package design, so it doesn’t surprise me how well done this is. Such a fun reading experience!

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    • I haven’t read a lot of Quirk books, just the Last Policeman trilogy so this is quite new for me! But I know they put out very interesting/cool books.

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  4. I loved this one, so glad to see you liked it. I actually found quite a bit of the corporate propaganda/speak quite amusing, but your right, it’s much more of a serious horror book than one likely expects from the packaging, whic just fits it so incredibly well!

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    • Oh god, the corporate speak was hilarious. I worked in a recruiting agency and a lot of the job titles and responsibilities from clients were always described in that way as well.

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  5. I agree a haunted department store is a new one. Only three people spend the night? I guess this isn’t a book with many death scenes? I think I’d rather be alone in one of those big stores than when it’s full of people. I wonder how many inside jokes are in this book. It has adds and coupons? That is weird.

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    • Well, there are actually at least two more people that end up spending the night, but I don’t want to go into any more detail to describe how and why, it will give away too much 🙂

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  6. I’ve worked in a big-box store, and if someone there had told me that my position there wasn’t a job but the rest of my life I would’ve gone out and written a horror story about it! Grady Hendrix clearly knows something about horrifying retail experience; at least he was able to turn it into something quirky and fun!

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    • I was actually going to write in this review something along the lines of “if you’ve ever worked retail, some of the corporate speak/overly cheery culture in here might actually be a horror story in and of itself!” but I thought that might be too much 😛

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  7. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday Halloween Freebie: Top Ten Books About Hauntings and Demonic Possessions | The BiblioSanctum

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