The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Book Club ~ 'Horrorstör'

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Book Club ~ 'Horrorstör'

Hardcover Honey Jocelyn's Book of the Week

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

I read this entire book yesterday and I recommend you do the same. Original idea plus innovative design and some kick-ass gore to boot? This book is MADE for any fan of the Horror Honeys.

I can picture some sleazy LA douche pitching Blumhouse or whoever on it, spreading his hands apart and saying “Picture this.  Haunted IKEA. BOOM” and a group of producers rising to their feet, applauding and throwing money at him.  And you know what?  I would be the first person in line to see that shit.

The entire story takes place over one night and it’s a very minimal one – suburban retail slug Amy trudges off to her job at ORSK, an IKEA knockoff (“Have a question?  Just ORSK!”) promising “a better life for the everyone." Amy’s main objective for the shift is to avoid her deputy store manager, Basil (a “taller Urkel”), as she fears she’s on his to-be-fired list. The store, it seems, despite being clogged with shoppers every day, is falling short of projected financial goals, and everybody knows job cuts are likely. In addition, strange things are happening lately throughout the store, including broken mirrors found in the morning, a mattress hacked to shreds, and even human waste on a Brooka sofa. Plus the bathroom features odd new graffiti, full of names, dates and references to “the Beehive." Amy even sees a strange man in the store when she arrives on the morning in question, but not wanting to bring attention to herself, she simply ignores him.

Amy’s retail cohorts include bearded hipster Matt and hot Korean anime type Trinity who is described thusly “One of those happy, super-popular, high-energy girls who reminded Amy of the creatures from Gremlins: she was fun for about half an hour, then you wanted to stuff her in a blender." Trinity is obsessed with ghosts and excited at the possibility of any supernatural activity.

Author Grady Hendrix
At the end of her shift, Amy is asked to see Basil in his “motivation room” – dreading her firing, she shows up anyway and finds beloved long-time cashier Ruth Anne already waiting for Basil as well. Ruth Anne has worked for ORSK for over 13 years and Amy knows if Ruth Anne is getting the boot too, things must be serious indeed. But as it turns out, Amy’s fears are for nothing. Basil just wants Amy and Ruth Anne to stay overnight in the store with him and monitor the weird stuff going on - there’s clearly a security breach somewhere, he notes, and corporate is visiting in the morning as a result, so everything needs to be tip-top. He offers double overtime, paid in cash at the end of their shift. They agree – Amy is behind on rent as usual and sees a chance to almost catch up. Ruth Anne is a team player – the type of employee who celebrates other ORSK team birthdays, hire anniversaries, etc. Never married, no kids, Ruth Anne is devoted to ORSK and discreet enough to be trusted with Basil’s request. Although the store is outfitted with security cameras, no footage of the incidents are being captured. 

Amy and Ruth Anne agree (you knew they would, right?) and the stage is set. After the store closes for the evening they begin their patrols, Basil on his own, and the women as a team, and almost immediately things.get.weird. As they follow the “Bright and Shining Path” that runs through the store, Ruth Anne tells Amy about getting lost on her first day in the new store after transferring from another, with Kitchens where Offices should be and a disorienting feeling that the store itself was moving around behind her back. Amy is dismissive (damn millennials). As they approach Kitchens, they hear a scrabbling sound and are disgusted to see a plump black rat slithering out of a display drain and skittering off down the path. Side note – this Hendrix guy seems to have a pretty firm grasp on ALL of my trigger scary words, including but not limited to: scrabbles, shambles, slithers, skitters, and plump. It’s like he’s IN MY BRAIN.

Amy and Ruth Anne come across Trinity and Matt, who have hidden in a couple of Liripip wardrobes and are planning to spend the night in the store and capture any video of ghosts they can. Trinity dreams of having her own ghost-hunter show – she is very careful to note that it will be on Bravo and NOT on A&E with the poseurs. They are outfitted with electromagnetic monitors, flashlights, cameras, etc. and eager to make their demo reel. Matt is careful to note that the ORSK location is built on the site of an old prison, dating from the nineteenth century. The group splits into duos and proceeds through the store. Amy is with Matt, and as they walk, she hears more about the prison – the Cuyahoga Panopticon – and its warden, one Josiah Worth, who believed that nonstop surveillance would cure criminals, going so far as to design giant labyrinths full of mindless tasks designed to rewire their brains. Hmm, what does that sound like? I can tell you from my one and only IKEA experience that mindless repetition did in fact seem to be a large part of the day there. Eventually the group reunites and comes across the man Amy saw earlier, a homeless and harmless man named Carl. Carl mentions that his nights in ORSK are a blur and that he often gets headaches or blacks out, waking with unexpected dirt under his nails or glass in his hair.  
Things go from bad to worse when Basil goes outside to wait for the police and the others decide that a séance is a good idea (Spoiler alert: it’s not). Even better, Matt suggests, for the sake of making the demo reel more dramatic, that they all be handcuffed together. The key is carefully placed in the center of the table, with Amy insisting “I don’t want to have one of those stupid sitcom moments where no one can find the key.”

The séance goes horribly (or I guess it goes successfully if you really want to get technical) as the spirit of Warden Worth makes himself known and takes over Carl’s body. And here Horrorstör shifts into high gear, as the punitive Warden Worth brings on all manner of horrors. Lights go out, fake doors to nowhere turn out to lead to dark and damp tunnels, and associates are fending for themselves.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the fake product descriptions heading various chapters. Each product number contains a “666” within it, a hilariously IKEA-parody product name and summary, and as the book progresses from banal to terrifying, so too do the products, starting with the innocuous Brooka sofa (“the relaxing beginning to the end of your day”) and ending with the Gurnë (“whether it’s a fast-paced trip to an urgent care center or a more leisurely cruise to the coroner’s office…”). I laughed throughout. And anybody who knows me knows that I like a strip of comedy with my horror. Much like a friendly ORSK team member, this book delivers.

Hardcover Honey verdict – 4.5 out of 5 missing hex screws.  

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