I feel deceived. Well, just a little. Somehow, I convinced myself that this book is about zombies in Ikea. I don’t know why I thought this or where the idea of zombies came from, but I was wrong; close to what actually happens in the book, but wrong. There are no zombies in Ikea. 😦
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. (Goodreads)
Apart from the zombies, I was eager to read this novel because of the design of the book itself. From the moment I saw a copy of the edition that looks like an Ikea catalog, I knew that I had to buy and read the book. I didn’t even bother to read the synopsis, but I probably read the first sentence and that’s why my zombie idea was able to persist.
Because I went in blind, I didn’t have high expectations for the story, but I was anxious as I read because I knew the story is horror and I wondered what would jump out at me — I was tensely expecting the unexpected. The story’s beginning lulled me into a false sense of security. Sure it’s horror, but it’s set in a furniture store that’s a rip-off of Ikea. Nothing bad and scary could happen at Ikea, erm, Orsk! It’s always bright and well lit in such stores making customers forget that it’s a windowless fortress (which I didn’t realize until I read Ursula Le Guin’s No Time to Spare and she mentioned that stores like Walmart do not have windows). And what scary thing could happen in a store filled with such nice furniture?
But after hours, such places can become unsettling, as Hendrix convinced me of in this book. When the lights shut off and the crowds of people leave the store, the setting became surreal. Hendrix builds up to the horror, but I like how he goes about it and I especially love how he convinces us that the setting changes. For me, Orsk seems like a fun fairyland in the day with people walking down the “Bright and Shining Path” as it leads them toward the cashiers to make their purchase. But at night, it transforms into a dark, forbidding forest of objects that the imagination tricks people into thinking are something else. I like how this transformation gradually happens in the book until the surreal takes over and reality is questioned.
“…and after a while Amy felt as though she was wandering through a vast, trackless wasteland dotted with furniture from some vanished civilization.”
I didn’t expect to be scared. Yea, I anxious to see what scary thing would happen, but I thought I wouldn’t actually be scared by what I read. Well, I was. I think it’s the part with the séance that unsettled me and also when Amy, the protagonist, and Matt could not trust what they were seeing and had to rely on what they saw on the camera to guide them. That was some eerie stuff (also the hands sticking out the walls and the woman plucking her eyes out… **shivers**). But I loved that the characters relied on the Bright and Shining Path to navigate the store and that the path later became a bit unreliable. It added a fairy tale vibe to the story that I wish was played up a bit more.
As a horror story, this was pretty good. It held my attention, it unsettled me, it entertained me, and I liked the commentary on how large department stores try to program its shoppers to use and navigate the store in a particular way. It was a good reading experience and the story was pretty fast paced, so I sped through it. My favorite thing about it was the setting and that the story seems like a mash up of a haunted house, scary fairy tale forest, and slasher movie. I also loved the design of the book, which closely resembles an Ikea catalog, which to me, adds a touch of humor to the story. Throughout we get diagrams of furniture sold at Orsk as well as other questionable furniture and devices used to torture the characters when Orsk goes dark. There’s even an order form at the front of the book and coupons at the back. Lol!
Overall: ★★★☆☆ ½
I’m upset that there aren’t any zombies, not really.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
That’s if you plan to get the edition that resembles an Ikea catalog. I think it’s worth Buying that if you’re interested in reading the book.