by Grady Hendrix, illus. by Michael Rogalski
Quirk Books, 2014
256 pages / $11.46 Buy from Amazon
Here’s a book that’s a lot better in theory than in practice. Written by somebody who clearly knows the horror of working retail, Horrorstör transplants the usual “ghosts with a grudge” story into a novel setting: Orsk, a faux-Scandinavian furniture superstore somewhat spoiled by the fact that it exists in the same universe as the real IKEA, which Grady is obviously parodying. (The conceit that Orsk is an IKEA “me-too” run by a WalMart-like American conglomerate instantly rings false, as do the out-of-place Britishisms embedded in the store’s punny product names and corporate slogans.)
The book is at its best when it is skewering retail culture and the vast gulf that exists between corporate think tanks and the actual people forced to carry out their inane policies. Hendrix attempts to enhance this satire by leveraging a rather uninspired horror trope: as it turns out, the store was built on the site of a Puritanical prison/torture dungeon, and the ghosts of both prisoners and warden walk the showroom floor after dark. His message gets a little muddled in the process, but while the ghost story that dominates the second half of the book is nothing new, it’s at least entertainingly written in a Stephen King meets Christopher Moore kind of way.
–Reviewed by Byron Campbell
There’s only a week left until Halloween! In addition to the #VERYSCARY series, we’ll be featuring some capsule reviews this week of some of the spookier books that have come out this year to get you prepped for the best day of the year.