“It was dawn, and the zombies were stumbling through the parking lot, streaming towards the massive beige box at the far end. Later they’d be resurrected by megadoses of Starbucks, but for now they were the barely living dead.”
I stumbled across Grady Hendrix’s books on Amazon. Admittedly, I was more interested in My Best Friend’s Exorcism at first (this should give you a good indication of where my horror predilections lie), but the premise for Horrorstor was just too damn good: strange things are happening at a big-box furniture store in Ohio called Orsk, and management is stumped. They ask three employees to take an overnight shift to investigate the cause of damaged furniture, broken glasses, and horrendous smells. What follows is ghost story that far from the standard haunted house fare.
Amy, the main character, is a bit of a sad sack. She’s a habitual quitter, especially when the going gets tough. She resents her boss, Orsk’s resident geek-boy and overachiever, Basil. When another couch is found covered in a “strange substance,” ya know, poop, the store partners ask Basil to figure it out before a team of specialists is brought in.
Basil selects Amy and Ruth Anne, a middle-aged, motherly-type whose only interaction with people occurs at work. During their shift, Ruth Anne and Amy discover two other employees who stayed behind for the after-hour shifts: Trinity, a manic pixie dream girl who’s obsessed with capturing a ghost on film, and Matt, who’s smart but a bit too thirsty for Trinity.
During the course of their shift, the Orsk employees discover not only the source of the damaging activity but the chilling history of the site that Orsk was built on.
Hendrix’s writing style is descriptive and easy to follow. Orsk is based on Ikea stores, and his treatment of this is very tongue in cheek. Each chapter is begun with a sketch of an Ikea-esque bit of furniture, boasting names like Liripip and Arsle. Each of the characters were well developed, and I rooted for their safety throughout. I’m a sucker for character development, and Amy’s arc in this story is applause-worthy.
I will say it takes a while to dive into the action. The first chapter or two provide quite a bit of exposition before we delve into the horror of, well, the Horrorstor. But for fans of creepy stories with a dash of humor, Horrorstor is a great, easy read.