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.
A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.
Horrorstör succeeds in delivering its promised mix of quirkiness, humour, and horror in a fun, quick read that will continue to haunt you long after you’ve finished reading.
First off, the innovative design. From start to finish the book is designed like an Ikea catalogue from the physical size of the book right down to the blue lettering and product pages inside. I love books that are super creative like this, and liked how the design meshed with the contents of the story. As the plot darkens the products advertised become decidedly more sinister in a way that blends your reality with that of the characters.
The plot while rather predictable, was definitely disturbing and downright creepy. The Ikea-esque setting worked perfectly as a modern version of the classical haunted house. Instead of an old, multi-roomed mansion, Hendrix uses the labyrinth of Orsk with its fake rooms and doors that lead to nowhere to generate the same chilling atmosphere. The intensity slowly builds so that you are slowly drawn in to the horror of the store, making it all the more effective. Best to set aside an afternoon to read this one as you won’t want to put it down.
Horrorstör is also a parody of retail work and marketing. While it would have probably hit even closer to home if I were in retail myself, the concepts of mindless labour and scripted disorientation are definitely horrible by-products of a capitalist society. Orsk is designed to get you to cough up money through the “retail hypnosis” inducing design of the store all while subjecting it’s employees to hours of dull work. The main character, Amy, serves as your stereotypical disgruntled worker – she dislikes her job and feels like a failure for being stuck in a mindless position. On the other end of the scale is Basil, the store manager, who practically worships Orsk and its values, designed to be the exact kind of person anyone stuck in a retail job would hate. It all works because there’s truth in everything that Hendrix includes in the book. You’ll never look at Ikea the same way again.
A fun and chilling read, Horrorstör is more than just a gimmick and serves as an effective and creative retail parody. Recommened to horror fans and fans of creative books such as those by Mark Z. Danielewski.