Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 5 stars
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.
“You don’t want to go out on the floor? Tough titty, said the kitty. I don’t want to go on the floor, either, but having a job is all about doing things you don’t want to do. That’s why they pay you money for it. Life doesn’t care what you want, other people don’t care what you want. All that matters is what you do.”
I really enjoyed Paperbacks From Hell, so was eager to read another book by Grady Hendrix. This one appealed to me, because I have a weakness for haunted house stories, and I’m not so old that I can’t remember the retail hell I was subject to through my late teens and 20’s – the long hours, the split shifts, the repetitive tasks, the surly customers, the managers who micromanage, yet are never around when you really need them, the ass-kissers, the incompetents, the motivational talks, and the low pay.
There were no throwaway characters here. Each one was unique, and very much like people I’ve worked with. Amy needs her job, yet she loathes the monotony of her tasks and her committed boss who beats his employees over the head with corporate doublespeak. She wants out, and her boss promises her a transfer if she agrees to work with him and the bubbly Ruth Anne, who never forgets anyone’s birthday, to determine the cause of the vandalism, mysterious graffiti, and funky smells and stains inside the store.
The IKEA-like setting is vivid, and I love the illustrations that introduce each chapter featuring store items, each designed for a specific purpose – most benign, others more ominous.
The tension ramps up when Amy and Ruth Anne encounter Matt and Trinity, two fellow employees hiding out in the store on a ghost-hunting mission. Together they discover that Orsk employees are not the only ones who have performed repetitive, torturous tasks.
This was a light, fun read with just the right amount of humor that never overwhelms the very real horror faced by five Orsk employees.