Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix is one of those books that you’d instantly pick up in a bookshop, but possibly dismiss as being a bit gimmicky. And it is gimmicky. But you should give it a try anyway.
Horrorstor is a modern day haunted house story. ORSK is an IKEA knock-off, identical in every way but surviving by undercutting their prices. Amy is one of the ORSK lackeys – actively avoiding her manager, slacking at every opportunity and rolling her eyes at the ‘living dead’ who work and shop there. If she had a motto, it would be “that’s not my job”. So when she’s asked to work an overnight shift with her uptight manager Basil, and the overly upbeat lifer Ruth Anne, she is torn between really not being arsed, and definitely needing the extra cash. Besides, she knows that the ‘mysterious’ damage and breakages happening overnight is just some random homeless guy they’ll scare off no problem. I mean there’s no way that there could be anything sinister going on in a billion dollar cathedral of consumerism, right?
Despite it’s quirky setting, at times, Horrorstor feels a bit like horror-by-numbers. The cast are the standard line-up – the final girl, the believer, the sceptic, the weak one, the harbinger, the unexpected alliance – but this is perhaps unsurprising given Hendrix’s career as a film critic. I personally don’t mind it, horror conventions work when they’re well (and knowingly) utilised, but genre fans shouldn’t expect anything ground breaking here.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I love the design of the book which is formatted to look just like an IKEA catalogue with ever increasingly sinister flat-pack illustrations. The pace of the story was rapid, but as the characters were familiar clichés already, character development didn’t suffer and you really felt for them, Amy and Ruth Anne in particular. It’s funny, witty and, yes, scary. Just what you want from a horror.
It has definitely made me realise the inherit creepiness of IKEA for sure!