Horrorstor horror novel Grady Hendrix

If you’ve never read any of Grady Hendrix’s other books, you might find Horrorstor’s mash-up of comedy and horror slightly disconcerting. It blends the main character’s bleak and oftentimes sardonic sense of humor with a rising feeling of unease and paranoia. Throw in a few bizarre Swedish-themed torture devices and you’ve got a hell of a weird book.

Before you’ve even opened the cover, Horrorstor sucks you in with bright, dynamic cover art meant to resemble the front of an Ikea catalog, complete with Swedish-sounding names and prices. A quick flip-through greets you with pictures of even more Ikea-esque furniture, complete with witty little blurbs and hard-to-pronounce names. You may notice as you flip through that the illustrations begin to look less like the cheap furniture you had in college and more like medieval torture devices, but more on that later.

 

Horrorstor takes place entirely within the build-it-yourself furniture megastore ORSK which, if you haven’t already figured out, is essentially a knockoff Ikea. When petty vandalism threatens to ruin the store’s excellent track record with the higher-ups, our bizarre cast of characters is recruited to stake out the store overnight and catch the vandals. The inciting event happens right off the bat and sets us up for an exciting night of Home Alone-inspired booby traps and redeeming character arcs, right? Wrong. If you think you know where this book is going, you’re in for a surprise.

Our main character, Amy, is equal parts annoyingly bleak and painfully relatable. She sees ORSK as just another dead-end job in her dead-end life. And while her too-cool-to-care attitude comes off a bit whiny at times, her character manages to grow and change in subtle ways that don’t feel overly contrived and her mixture of curiosity and just wanting to survive the night keep the plot going at a nice pace.

 

Hendrix does a great job of keeping us guessing as to what’s going on in ORSK for the first part of the book. Then, just when we’ve gotten our feet under us and have a grasp on what’s really going on, the book goes from feeling like a teen slasher flick to something much more sinister. Remember those illustrations of DIY furniture/torture devices I mentioned earlier? Yeah, this book gets pretty dark at times but manages to balance that out by being almost heartwarming at exactly the right moments. It’s a good mix of disturbing and ridiculous and will keep you questioning everything right up until the end. Horrorstor is a great read and a good foray into horror for newcomers to the genre with its balance of humor and horror and it may even inspire you to take a trip to your local Swedish megastore. But probably not.

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