Book Review: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Horrorstor is a horror story that takes place in an Ikea-like big box store. It’s blend of horror and comedy had me chuckling even as I was cringing.

I read Horrorstor as part of the 2021 Thoughtful Reading Challenge. October’s challenge was to read a horror or paranormal novel. I’m sure you can guess why. Horror is not my genre at all – I’m pretty squeamish – so I Googled “funny horror novels” and this book popped up several times.

The main protagonist is Amy, an unhappy and unmotivated Orsk employee (Orsk is the Ikea knock-off). When we’re introduced to Amy, she and her co-workers are compared to zombies who are enslaved to their Orsk jobs due to various factors in their personal lives, and this remains a theme throughout the story.

Strange things are happening at night at the Orsk store. Employees arrive for their morning shifts to find broken home accessories and strange, smelly substances smeared on the furniture. When Amy’s boss, Basil, asks her to patrol the store with him overnight, she agrees because she’s late paying her rent and needs the money.

horrorstor

On one of her trips around the store, Amy finds that two other coworkers have snuck into the store to attempt to film the ghosts they are sure are haunting the building. When they hold a seance to conjure the ghosts, all hell breaks loose. It turns out that the store was built on the site of an old prison whose warden tortured the prisoners in an attempt to rehabilitate them. And now he wants to use those methods on the Orsk employees with the help of hundreds of his zombie prisoners.

I’ll start with the humor. The author, Grady Hendrix, delivers a hilarious and biting satire of Ikea (and the corporate retail world in general). The novel has a strong catalog component – each chapter is named for a Scandinavian-named piece of furniture and the chapters begin with a picture from the catalog and silly, aspirational descriptions that would make a lot of corporate marketers drool.

Here’s an example of the description for a kitchen table and chairs: “We’re all morning people if we treat our bodies and minds with care and respect. Pause at your ARSLE to turn breakfast into a celebration of a brand new day. Sitting here, suddenly everything tastes just a little bit better.”

horrorstor arsle

Honestly, the book is worth reading just for the wicked satire.

As for the horror part, I have nothing to compare it to because I don’t read horror. Suffice it to say that the author imaginatively created a disturbing environment and monstrous ghosts. I felt a little squeamish during some of the scenes, but I just don’t have the imagination to be scared by a book. If this had been a movie, complete with visuals and sounds, I probably would have had a very different reaction.

The book also had a subplot regarding Amy and Basil. Amy didn’t like Basil at the beginning, but when the stuff hit the fan, they suddenly had each other’s backs. Additionally, this was an event that snapped Amy out of her malaise and made her want to be a better person. I liked both messages.

I’m glad I read Horrorstor. It’s good to occasionally go beyond my usual genre. I would recommend it to people who like their horror stories spiced up with some biting satire (or maybe the other way around?).

Happy Halloween, everyone!

*Reminder – November’s challenge is to read a book with “saint” in the title.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

  1. For this challenge I read “Southern Spirits” by Angie Fox because, like you, I don’t do horror. If you have to do this category again, I’d suggest Angie’s books. There are ghosts (and some are really not nice), but it’s also a kind of upbeat, Southern girl, semi-romantic story. I’d read another one of her books for a similar category in the future. Thanks for this year’s reading challenge: I’ve read several books outside my normal reading preferences and was glad to expand my mind a bit this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jennifer! Thanks for commenting and for participating in this year’s challenge. I think I need to find a different category for October for next year’s challenge, although your book sounds interesting. I’m going to take a look.

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  2. My reaction to the book is not too dissimilar from yours. I found the first 1/3ish of the book hilarious. The satire was great and it really wasn’t a horror story – yet. Although I have only watched it a couple of times, I couldn’t quit thinking about the TV show Superstore since it too is a comedy. I really liked this portion of the book – funny with a decent plot and some good characters. As for the rest of the book, the horror part, I found it just okay. I didn’t find this portion particularly humorous, except for the chapter lead-ins which were really good. And the horror? Well, I guess this isn’t my genre either since I didn’t find it super interesting. I was glad it wasn’t a Stephen King length tome and think Hendrix should write a straight out satire book since that was certainly the best part of this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read this one and enjoyed it when it first came out. We were just getting an IKEA store in my town at that time too, so it was fun to go to the store and remember the story as well. Great review!

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