Grady Hendrix has quickly become one of my favorite writers, his ability to balance real and comedic moments with truly terrifying scares. So, when I came across his first novel, Horrorstor, I was delighted and snapped it right up, and couldn’t wait to dig into it.
It did not disappoint. Finding that perfect balance between scares and laughs, there is also some social commentary at work throughout about retail, big box stores, and those who work in them, and those who run them.
Amy has been working in Orsk (an IKEA knockoff) for a while. She’s sarcastic, funny, and always seems to be behind financially, no matter what happens. She clashes with her supervisor Basil, and can’t seem to get along.
When Basil recruits her and another employee Ruth Anne to prepare the store overnight for a visit from a consulting team who are arriving to investigate some strange goings on, the trio get more than they bargained for as the true terror of a store after dark is revealed.
Fellow employees, with dreams of a successful ghost hunting show, are also on hand, turning an already troubling retail space into something creepier, and then all hell breaks loose.
Hendrix has this wonderful ability to turn his stories on a dime, at one moment, you’ll be laughing aloud, I kid you not – this actually happens with me in his books, and then you’ll be cringing as something truly horrific happens.
He doesn’t pull his paranormal punches, and his characters are put through the wringer, or other devices as described in the catalog-esque design of the book. There are product illustrations that are central to each chapter, which get increasingly darker and horrifying in their design and purpose, coupons, reports, and all of it combine to deliver a quick, scary read.
I think that is the only true drawback to this and the other pair of Hendrix’s books I’ve read… they are too short. I find myself wondering what he would do with a story that verges on the scary and epic.
The story rockets along, and Hendrix is great at maintaining the atmosphere of the horror as it moves from the deep darkness of a night silent box store to the horrors of something not entirely different. Amy has a great arc through the story, and it definitely pays off at the end of the story, though at the same time, it left me wanting so more, the imagination fired up with what would happen next.
Hendrix novels are great fun, scary, laugh-filled, and some truly horrific moments. If you’re looking for something unique, yet eerily reminiscent of your retail life, this is definitely worth the read.
Check it out!