Horrorstor has been sitting on my GoodReads list of books to read for a long time now, so imagine my surprise when I popped into my local library to grab some less boring bedtime reading materials for my minions and there it was, sitting all shiny and new…waiting for me.
The premise is pretty simple. A particular American IKEA knockoff store called ORSK is experiencing vandalism in the middle of the night. The vandalism must be occurring between 2 and 7 am each night when the security lights inside the store shut down (side note: why would they do that?). Basil the store manager approaches Amy (who’s very close to being fired) and Ruth (the ultimate employee) to work a secret dusk to dawn shift with him to find out who or what is vandalizing the store. Amy can’t turn it down because she needs the money for back rent and Ruth doesn’t have anything better to do.
While doing their overnight shift, they come upon two other employees with visions of capturing ghosts on camera and selling their ghost hunting style video to the likes of Bravo (never A&E! inside joke from the book). While talking, Matt and Trinity reveal that the store was built on a very old, and quite notorious site that might be contributing to all the odd things that are occurring in the store at night. With only one true believer in the group, we’ve got Basil attempting to right everything in the store before corporate comes the next morning, Amy attempting to just make it through the night without getting fired, Ruth enjoying the company (and yet simultaneously experiencing flashbacks of childhood fears), Matt attempting to get into Trinity’s pants and Trinity trying to see a real live ghost. After an ill advised seance, “the gates are opened” and kind of literally, all hell breaks loose.
The premise is pretty fantastic; it was kind of like a cross between Poltergeist, The Gate, and all that anyone who has ever worked retail knows to be hell–complete with the manager who was sucked down all the kool aid and can spout company rhetoric at any given moment (I’m thankful to be far removed from that world now, but the scars are still there). The execution of the novel/plot was just ok to me. I enjoyed reading the book (killing it off in just a few hours) but as a horror novel, there’s a lot of exposition but not quite as much pay off as I would want once the secret of that particular ORSK store is revealed. I think this is a matter of possible personal preference and it probably won’t take away from the book for the average reader. Typically with horror, I like getting to know the characters before they get picked off, it’s the only way you care what’s happening. Think about the movie Alien. If we didn’t spend all that time with the crew, then we wouldn’t know who’s dying and we probably wouldn’t care as much, but through their interaction with one another we get to know then and we do care. But here in Horrorstor, the exposition gets a little bogged down by the “working in retail is awful” shtick (which it TOTALLY is, but I don’t think we need to hear about it for that many pages). If you don’t like your horror gory and/or you like a supernatural element to your horror, I think this might be the book for you. The design of the book and all the different ORSK product descriptions were pretty delightful and that in itself made the book worth reading- it was pretty darn spiffy.