Horrorstör Review
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If you’ve ever shopped at an IKEA store, you know how overwhelming and disorienting the experience can be. In the parody thriller Horrorstör, author Grady Hendrix takes the store’s recognizable culture and some of its more disconcerting qualities and magnifies them, turning a fictional IKEA-like housewares store into every furniture shopper’s nightmare.

The story takes place in Cleveland’s Orsk store—a cheap American IKEA knock-off with the same store culture, the same flat-packed products, and the same maddening store layout. Lately, store partners have been noticing strange disturbances when they arrive for work in the morning: mysterious stains, broken products, and a terrible smell. With the store’s sales dwindling and a visit from regional management on the horizon, Deputy Store Manager Basil enlists a pair of employees to spend the night in the store, hunting for the culprit. But they soon find themselves facing more than just a sneaky vandal.

  
 
Formatted to look like a classic IKEA catalog—complete with product features and company information—Horrorstör seems to promise all kinds of quirky horror-comedy. But while it’s both chilling and funny, it never manages to be both at the same time.

In the beginning, the story focuses on introducing its cast of quirky characters while taking plenty of jabs at the Scandinavian-style furniture superstore. The characters are underdeveloped and minimally interesting—from manual-quoting manager Basil to cynical slacker Amy—but their surroundings seem to set up a creepy comic adventure. Throw in a pair of would-be ghost hunters who are determined to get their own supernatural reality TV show, and you’ll be bracing yourself for hilarious horrors.

What follows, however, is anything but hilarious. The tone suddenly shifts to something much more serious as the characters begin to uncover the horrors that haunt their fashionable but bewildering store. Though the author occasionally takes advantage of the store’s maze-like layout, the bulk of the action is pretty typical. The reason for the disturbances is clichéd, and the results are random and diverse, trying out a strange variety of hauntings instead of narrowing its focus. And while it definitely has its share of gruesome surprises, the serious scares of the story’s second half feel entirely out of place in a book that opens with a lighter, more tongue-in-cheek tone.

The idea behind Horrorstör is definitely a clever one—and the unconventional setting seems to set the stage for a furniture-filled maze of both laughter and scares. But the uneven execution of this eccentric horror-comedy fails to live up to its potential.


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