Author: Grady Hendrix
Narrators: Tai Sammons, Bronson Pinchot
Published 2014 Quirk Books, 2014 Blackstone Audio
6.5 hours, 5 discs+1 PDFdisc. 9781483149809. $29.95
Available in print, e-book, and audiobook
Why I Read It
Every time I passed by the new shelf at my library, I got caught and stared at the cover of a book called Horrorstör. It looked like the cover of a furniture magazine. I cannot tell you how many times I almost moved it from the fiction new shelf to the nonfiction new shelf, or that one time someone actually did. I had no idea what it was about, only that it had horror in the title. I’m not much of a horror reader. I DO NOT like to be scared, so horror books are generally out of the question. I will read thrillers, and they are plenty scary, but outright horror…no. I kept coming back to the cover, though. When I saw it on audio, though, I couldn’t not read it. The book kept calling to me. So, I took the plunge. I was not disappointed. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Five ORSK employees are trapped, with each other, with those who were there before, with those who have always been there. Waiting.
Amy is a showroom floor employee at ORSK, a knock-off IKEA store in Cuyahoga county, Ohio. She’s the most sarcastic person in the store. Everything in her life is going wrong. Her roommates want the rent that’s late. Her supervisor is a weenie. She has no real friends. When her weenie supervisor, Basil, asks her to meet in the dialogue room, she thinks he’s going to fire her. When she arrives, she finds someone already there. Ruth Anne works the checkout lanes. She also happens to be an ORSK lifer, 14 years she’s devoted to ORSK, and ORSK customers. She’s ORSK’s best employee bar none. Basil can’t be firing her too. Basil finally explains that he needs the two of them to accompany him on a stake out. ORSK Cuyahoga has been afflicted with a rash of damaged merchandise in th past weeks. Corporate wants to know what’s going on. The plan is for Basil, Amy, and Ruth Anne to walk the store periodically and find the culprit, so they will be able to show corporate that bad things won’t happen again.
During the night, on the first store walk in fact, Amy comes upon Matt and Trinity, two ORSK employees, fooling around in bedrooms. They’ve stayed the night, because they think ORSK is haunted. They are determined to get ghost footage and launch a ghost hunting show on BRAVO. That never happens. The culprit, they discover, is a homeless man named Carl. Except Carl hasn’t been doing anything but sleeping on the furniture and using the facilities. He’s not responsible for poop on the pristine white couch or the shattered fake windows.
Matt tells the story of the prison that used to be housed on the land that ORSK now sits upon. It was called The Beehive and the Warden, Josiah Worth, was a maniac. He believed that the souls of his prisoners could be redeemed through work, everlasting work. But the Beehive has been gone for hundreds of years. Trinity is determined to see a ghost, and suggests a séance to see if any of the prisoners of the Beehive are still around. They are.
Josiah Worth possesses Carl’s body and unleashes his prisoners, penitents he calls them, on the unsuspecting ORSK employees. Five went in, but only two come out.
Here’s what I think
Well. That’s all I got. I was thoroughly entertained and a little creeped out. I laughed aloud in places, squeaked in other places. The sacrifice scene was a bit much for me. Digging hooks in throats is not something I like to imagine. I’m not sure if I’m properly expressing how much I enjoyed this story. Amy is a typical sarcastic millennial. She ran out of money for school, so she had to drop out. She wants a sit down, salaried job, but she’s stuck at ORSK in the middle of nowhere Ohio. Her rent is late, and she doesn’t really have the means to make it up. Ruth Anne, on the other hand, is older, wiser, and some would call her a spinster. ORSK is her family. She has no one and nothing else, but her job. Her straight talk to Amy is real, and her inner optimist is refreshing. Basil is not actually a weenie. He has priorities, like raising his little sister, that mandate he do well. He’s also a nerd and wants friends. Matt will do anything for Trinity. Trinity is a ditzy, Asian blonde rich girl. None of them truly deserve the physical and psychological damage inflicted upon them by Worth and his penitents.
The horror elements to this story, a haunted house in a furniture store, were actually well done. What was really funny, the self-awareness of the characters. At one point, someone even says ghosts only haunt houses. Someone else points out that ORSK has living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and home offices. ORSK is a house, therefore ghosts can haunt it. The ORSK motto is “A better home for the everyone.” There is balance where I wasn’t sure there would be. The satirical and the scary inhabit the same space without feeling forced or outside of the story. A review I read after I finished likened Hendrix’s style to Palahniuk. Well deserved praise.
Horror readers will find just enough of the creepy to keep them satisfied. Satire readers will more than enough to keep them occupied. Non-readers of both genres will be pleasantly surprised by how engrossed they get in the story after being caught by the IKEA catalogue cover.
5Q–Hard to imagine it being better written.
4P–Broad general or genre appeal.
Readalikes, courtesy of NoveList Plus
Bad Monkeys, Matt Ruff
The Mall, S. L. Grey
John Dies at the End, David Wong
quirky, plot-driven, fast-paced, engaging, amusing, suspenseful
Book talk ideas
The Bright and Shining Path
Amy and Ruth Ann talk about life
Josiah Worth speaks
Book discussion questions
1) What do you think of Amy? Ruth Ann? Trinity? Matt? Basil? Josiah Worth? The Penitents?
2) Amy is forced into the constricting chair by the penitents and thinks about all the ways her life has crumbled. Do you have moments like this? What are some ways you cope with those moments?
3) Basil has an unerring belief in the Orsk way, mainly because he has to. Do you think his belief in Amy as Shop Responsible stems from his belief in Orsk or is it on Amy’s own merits? Why?
4) The product descriptions at the beginning of each chapter get darker and darker as the story continues. At what point did you realize this? Did it change your perception of the story?
5) What do the characters mean when they say the store gets into their heads? Is the store itself a character, a penitent in the Beehive?
6) If you read the novel, did any of the product names trip you up? If you listened to the audio, did you imagine the spelling of any of the product names?
Clues to the Future
Horrorstör, Grady Hendrix, Orsk, IKEA, penitents, Josiah the Warden, Ruth Ann, creepy crawlies, Basil, floods, marsh, The Beehive, 19th century prisons
Awards and Lists
2014 LibraryReads Favorites
2014 Goodreads Choice: Horror nominee
Links to the Author, Interviews, and Reviews
Author website: http://www.gradyhendrix.com/
Wall Street Journal Interview: http://www.wsj.com/articles/grady-hendrixs-catalog-of-nightmares-1411432547
The Nerdist review: http://nerdist.com/book-review-horrorstor-a-novel/