Working retail and putting together furniture are both their own special types of hell. Put them together, however, and you’ve got one hell of a funny (and terrifying) story.
Orsk is a fancy furniture store (that’s obviously a stand in for IKEA) with a serious problem. Every morning, employees come in to find that various items have been broken and/or rearranged. The video cameras don’t show anything (or anyone) that is clearly responsible, so the store manager decides to set up a dusk-til-dawn patrol shift to find out.
As you might imagine, things get weird and scary.
Just like with My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Grady Hendrix proves to be an absolute master of combining humor and horror without negating either…mostly. We’ll get to that issue in a little bit.
On the funny side of things, this book will speak to anyone who has worked any sort of retail job. From the micro-managing boss to the insufferable co-workers, spending the night in a furniture store with your sales team is even worse (and more hysterical) than you can imagine. Amy, the main character, provides the reader with a snarky, whip-smart voice to retail frustrations and experiences so familiar that it’s almost uncomfortable how dead on her observations are.
As far as the horror goes, Hendrix slowly and deftly ratchets up the terror as the narrative progresses, eventually dropping us square in the middle of something more horrifying than IKEA’s worst instruction manuals.
The book is also designed like a product catalogue from the Scandinavian, providing hilariously detailed product advertisements and manuals that get progressively twisted and improbable the further into the narrative you go.
As wonderfully unconventional as Horrorstör mostly is, the last act feels very standard. It’s not bad, necessarily, but it becomes so straightforward that the book loses a lot of its initial charm.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a well constructed horror story. But when you’ve got something as unique as the first two thirds of the book, it’s a bit of a letdown, concluding it with something that reads like everything else out there (even if it is still exceptionally well written).
That being said, this is still a book that will keep you entertained the whole way through. While Hendrix might not have perfectly mixed the horror and humor like he did on My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Horrorstör still provides a Liatorp full of both.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go check and make sure the book shelves I put in my office aren’t actually ancient torture devices.