Hayley Knighten

Book Review: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

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At first glance Horrorstör, the novel by Grady Hendrix, designed to look like an Ikea catalog, looks like a clever marketing gimmick or a parody without substance. But readers, I promise you, like the Orsk store at the center of this plot, Horrorstör is full of surprises.

horrorstorI recommend getting your hands on a physical copy of  Horrorstör to enjoy it fully.  As much care had gone into the design of the book as the story, similar to House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

Inside this catalog/novel, you’ll find advertisements for attractive modern furniture with unpronounceable German names. Each piece appears harmless until you discover the numbers 666 hidden in every item number. As you progress deeper into the catalog, the furniture is replaced with torture devices and the mysterious origin of the building is revealed. There is even an employee application. Though, after reading about Amy’s experiences working the graveyard shift, I wouldn’t recommend filling it out.

Anyone who has ever worked retail can sympathize with Amy.  She hates being a corporate puppet forced to endure her overzealous boss Basil, who micromanages her with pun-enthused slogans and motivational acronyms.

Amy only wants to work her shift and collect her paycheck, but that proves difficult when Basil ropes her into working overnight to help him monitor the store.  The manager aims to demystify the recent vandalism and strange occurrences. What they experience is pure terror.

Horrorstör delivers the scares and some tongue-in-cheek humor. Hendrix has a clear talent for creating an atmosphere of dread, whether he’s describing the suffocating drudgery of working retail or the anxiety of patrolling a darkened furniture aisle alone.

A must for horror fans!  In some respects, it’s a bit like Shaun of the Dead with ghosts. Hendrix makes similar comments on consumerism, only darker and with a lot more gore– definitely not for the squeamish. The revelation in Horrorstör, that the building was once was a prison, makes for an interesting allegory. Amy experiences both incarnations of the building firsthand; each threatens to strip her identity from her and anyone else with a name badge. Through her trials, Amy is forced to question just how much she is willing to sacrifice to survive.

I devoured this entire book in one sitting! Hendrix’s quirky humor had me hooked from page one.  From there the narrative delved seamlessly into paranormal horror with suspense rising to claustrophobic intensity.

I hope to read more books from Hendrix’s twisted mind. There are coupons at the back of the book for a new store: Planet Baby. Creepy cribs and possessed toys? Oh Hell yeah! If there’s a Planet Baby book in the works, I want it!

AUTHOR: Grady Hendrix
PUBLISHER: Quirk Books
RELEASE DATE: September 23, 2014
GENRE: Horror
LENGTH: 240 pages

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