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review 2018-02-12 01:18
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix, designed by Andie Reid, illustrated by Michael Rogalski
Horrorstor - Grady Hendrix

Horrorstör is a ghost story that takes place in an Ikea knockoff called Orsk. Amy, one of the main characters, is low on cash, convinced she's about to be fired, and desperate to transfer to a different Orsk. She thinks her boss, Basil, has it in for her, which is why she's horrified when he calls her in for a special meeting. It throws her off a bit that Ruth Anne was also called in. Ruth Anne is a model employee, so why would anyone want to fire her?

As it turns out, Basil isn't planning on firing anyone, at least not right now. No, Basil has a problem. It appears that someone has been hanging around Orsk after hours and breaking things. In one instance, the person even pooped on a Brooka (sofa). The security cameras are no good - whoever's doing this has been limiting their activities to sometime between 2 and 7:30 AM, the time period when the store lights power down to twilight mode. Basil figures that he, Ruth Anne, and Amy can sweep the store and either find the culprit or at least prevent them from damaging anything else before the store's general manager and Regional arrive in the morning. This is a horror novel, so of course things don't go nearly that well.

Several people I follow on Booklikes read this a while back. I kept seeing the cover art pop up on my Dashboard, and the slightly creepy "catalog page" look of it intrigued me. It took me a while, but I finally requested an interlibrary loan copy.

I've never been to an Ikea and was a little worried that that would interfere with my enjoyment of the book. Thankfully that didn't seem to be the case, although having experience with big-box stores in general probably helps. Horrorstör gave readers an exhaustive employee's eye view of Orsk and how it operated, going so far as to include a floor plan, order form, and product images and descriptions (which took an unnerving turn later in the book).

The details about the haunting didn't strike me as being very exceptional or original, and the things that happened to the employees in the store occasionally caused me to pause and wonder how they hadn't died of shock yet. The thing that made Horrorstör more than just an average horror novel for me was the way it incorporated Orsk details. One of my favorite parts involved Amy being trapped inside a Liripip wardrobe. It mattered that it was that particular kind of wardrobe and that Amy was a store employee with special knowledge of its particular problems.

Hendrix did a great job at emphasizing the creepiness of an empty Orsk, with its peculiar layout that required customers to go through the store in a particular way. Even before the real horror started, I found myself getting creeped out by Amy and Ruth Anne's efforts to sweep the store for intruders.

The characters were a little thin, and their actions didn't always match the background info readers were given - for example, I found Basil's actions at the end a little difficult to believe considering he's his little sister's primary caretaker. That said, I still loved this. Hendrix left just enough loose ends that I could imagine a Planet Baby sequel, although it's probably for the best that, as far as I know, no sequel has been planned.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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