Wow, you must be thinking, another book review? Why yes, dear reader. Another book review! I actually finished this novel in two days, not because it was super short, but because I couldn’t put it down. So carry on, follow the Bright and Shining path, to my spoiler-free review of Horrorstör.
Like gravity, or ugly people, Grady Hendrix is hard to escape, especially here on his website. In this place, he is all up in your areas and he even wrote the words that you are reading right now. When you are on his website, he can see you. He can see you right now. – snippet from Hendrix’s website
Grady Hendrix is an American author, journalist, and screenwriter and a founder of the New York Asian Film Festival. Before becoming a professional writer, Hendrix worked in the library of the American Society for Psychical Research, Besides his novels, he has also written for numerous media outlets, including Playboy Magazine and The New York Post.
Considered a horror-comedy, the 2014 novel Horrorstör is a sleekly packaged “haunted house” story, designed to look like a classic furniture catalogue, complete with coupons at the back. The novel revolves around an IKEA-esque furniture store called ORSK (“Need something? Just ORSK!”) in Cleveland, Ohio. Employees have noticed that things were being damaged during the night, sales were suffering, and the security cameras were showing nothing. A rather loyal store manager picks two other employees and volunteers them to join him on a nine-hour dusk-til-dawn shift to catch the culprit. They are joined by two other employees who had snuck in with cameras and gear, convinced that the store is haunted.
Through the night, things start on a scale of creepy, greatly escalating to terrifying as the ORSK store turns out to be a horrifying mix of a shifting House of Leaves style store filled dangerous, tortured spirits.
I couldn’t put this book down, at all. As a result, I managed to finish it in two days.
The book is amazing.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but Hendrix (and subsequently the illustrator; Michael Rogalski, and cover artist; Christine Ferrara) have really redefined how a novel’s cover and art can help add to the overall plot and atmosphere of a book. The illustrations of ORSK products, which mark the beginning of each section, grow increasingly alarming as the novel progresses, which I thought was rather clever.
The story itself is original, witty, and humorous, spinning the classic haunted house premise on its particle board ear. The characters within the story really added to it as well. Hendrix has a clever way of making you dislike a character in the start, then grow to love and cheer for them in the end. In an assemble-it-yourself-using-a-stupid-Allen-tool nutshell, the characters in Horrorstör are well rounded and compelling. The setting, on top of everything, is also like a character unto itself – a creepy, untrustworthy skulker, lurking in the background and ready to betray. Add to that witty dialogue, well used gore, and you have one exquisite tale of terror.
From start to finish, I did not want to put this novel down. So I didn’t. I just stayed up really late and read until I got eye strain.
It has been such a long time since I’ve found a novel that has so transported me away from my own life, in such a well written way, that I lost sleep over it! And with that, dear reader, I highly recommend you pick this one up if you haven’t. I know I loved it so much that I just bought Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism to read next!
x P.L. McMillan