Monday, September 15, 2014
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
Synopsis From Inside Cover:
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 night, they'll patrol the empty Showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
Quirk Books is quickly becoming one of my favorite publishers. They keep producing works that not only draw you in with a well told story, but they are masters at packaging. Much like The Thorn & The Blossom by Theodora Goss, another Quirk title, this is one of those books that needs to be experienced in person. It can't be read over a NOOK or a Kindle. You can not stare at it on a computer screen, and truly get the experience of reading it. It's bound and formatted like a furniture catalog, soft cover and French flaps. The first few pages include the typical store map, Orsk's mission statement, and an order form. The chapters themselves start with a new piece of furniture, and it's description. It's a gorgeous book, and the experience of reading it, should be enough to convince everyone to pick it up.
I think I made it pretty clear when I reviewed 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz, that I love a good haunted house story. I think it was also pretty clear that I get upset when the haunted house story sucks, as it did with the Koontz book. Thankfully, Horrostor didn't suck. It was actually, pretty damn good. I'm not going to say it kept me on my toes the way The Haunting of Hill House does, or that it's nonstop action the way Hell House is, but it was a fun and lively romp through a store, bent on killing those that are still in it. It had it's scary moments, but I can't stay it ever terrified me, or made me want to turn on all the lights in the house.
I think were it fails as a pure horror novel, it makes up for in it's ability to poke fun at the genre, and at IKEA. The riff at IKEA is obvious. From the concept of the store, to the design of the book, to the names of the furniture pieces, it's making fun of the IKEA idea. But it's also getting at the consumer mentality that allows stores like IKEA or Orsk to exist. It's the cultural digs that I found to be the most appealing, and the most dead on.
Horrostor also plays with the precepts of the genre. It takes some of the basic constructs, including character types, and has a ton of fun with them. I can take each of these characters, and show you examples of them in just about every haunted house novel I've ever read. Normally, that would be a horribly repetitive, boring thing to do. Here, it reads more like a hilarious send up of the genre. Before the action even got started, I knew who would die, and who would live to see another day. With all that being said, I don't want to come across as if this book should be shelved in the Humor section of Barnes & Noble. It is, at it's core, a horror novel, it just has a lot of fun with it.