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.
Horrorstör is a genre-bending mashup of haunted house horror story, and social commentary humor. Amy, the protagonist, is working a dead-end retail job at this Ikea-knockoff box store chain, stuck in a spiral of debt and feeling adrift in life. So, basically an experience we all share at some point, especially in our twenties. I can’t say the characters are really well developed, but they definitely feel like people you’ve met.
Before you tell me you don’t like horror, let me tell you: neither do I.
And it’s ok, because although this book is full of creepiness and some typical scares (psychological more than gore) it’s not so immersive or descriptive that you feel scared. I think it’s the social commentary about consumerism, the constant ties between box stores (and marketing) and insane asylum horrors, etc.
Plus, each chapter features a schematic and marketing blurb straight out of an Ikea catalog. Pay close attention to the SKUs listed there.
As someone in marketing, I give it two thumbs up for the bizarre but successful blend of humor and horror. Certainly some jobs have felt like the fictional panopticon!
(which, since I wrote an essay on it in my Brit Lit class senior year, I can tell you has NOTHING to do with what they say it does in the book. The concept was that everyone could see you all the time, with the idea that human nature makes us strive to act our best when we think we’re being watched and judged by our community. So under that constant pressure, criminals would be more mindful about good behavior.)
It’s definitely a great choice for Halloween. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys different books; those who like both haunted houses and social commentary humor; and anyone who believes marketing is at least 25% evil.