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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Horrorstör (A Book You Can Finish In A Day)



Pro: A creepy, crawly, excellent idea.
Con: Aw man, why you gotta end it like that?

The Bottom Line: After wanting to read this for well over a year, all I can now say is I read it in a handful of hours and I'm sad there isn't a sequel.

At this point in time I don't remember how I first found Horrorstör, only that when I did discover it, I decided I ought to read it. The cover and the summary sounded like it was a bizarre sort of horror/comedy blend. Taking the concept of the big box store that lets you in but forces you to traverse the entire place before it ever lets you out with, well, never getting out. Coupled together with something clearly supernatural and not nice. Turns out that it's actually just horror, but the author, Grady Hendrix, may have very well worked retail at one point (or perhaps just been through one too many Ikeas) in order to take some very well-deserved and cheeky-sharp jabs at the world Orsk represents. As a retail manager myself, I appreciate it.

Orsk is basically a ripoff Ikea. But hey, a job is a job, so everyone drives there, clocks in, does their job, clocks out. Some are more into it than others. Although a few weird things do keep happening. Inventory is always jacked. Things are starting to break or malfunction. Amy just keeps doing her thing – it pays the bills, after all. But when Orsk higher-ups are scheduled to make an appearance, the general manager decides it's time to find out what's going on once and for all. Amy and four other employees find themselves in the store after close. In the dark. Hoping that maybe it's just some random person doing a bit of vandalism. It can't be supernatural. And even if it is, ghosts can't hurt you anyway. Right?

...Right?

There's nothing really comical about this. I mean, yes, you get the bits and pieces of satire which, if you've ever worked retail will make you smirk, but sooner rather than later the shit goes down and stuff stops being funny. When you're stuck in a store specifically fashioned to keep people in rather than out with a lot of horrible coming at you, you're gonna have a bad time. I liked how Hendrix kept up with all the specific furniture names a la Ikea, and had interesting little ideas that made for important details later on, like the Magic Tools (putting together your new Orsk furniture? Be sure to have a Magic Tool on hand!). And like many horror video games today (and recently, my read of Nick Cutter's The Deep), the main folks don't have the chance to fight. How can you when the stuff you're fighting is maybe kinda already sort of not alive? Being stuck in a situation in which you can't fight back is terrifying – especially when it's a case of wanting to but literally not having any effect on the bad stuff. You are powerless. And that is awful.

The characters do make their share of typical stupid horror-trope decisions (i.e. Yes, let's follow the man with one dead-eye and a slit throat who's standing in a corner into a hallway that literally doesn't exist and we know it), but as annoying as that is, I suppose it's kind of par for the course in order to get said characters from Point A to Point B so the terror can happen. Besides, a lot of supernatural awfulness doesn't play by the rules as it is, so in the end it's kind of a moot point. Though it still may not be enough to keep you from occasionally yelling at the pages.

The end is great, in a way, but it also really leaves me wanting more. I want a second novel, or even a novella just to know how things went down. The main story wraps up fairly well, but there are definitely some very large loose ends that linger which would be lovely to see tied up. However, I doubt that's going to happen, so I'll simply take my own Magic Tool (brain) and fabricate a story and ending that I like. Though it would probably end up different than Hendrix's since I like it when bad stuff burns and good guys prevail.

If you've been looking for a good horror read, this is a great way to go. It's fast (read it in a handful of hours), freaky, and might make you think twice before you step into a an Ikea. But don't worry, you'll be fine during the day.

Any questions? Just Orsk!


NT

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