Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix is a parody on DIY furniture shops and bears a striking resembling to Ikea. That is why in an introductory note entitled “Welcome to ORSK” (the name of our fictional store) Hendrix points out that everything to follow is the product of the author’s “fevered” imagination.
Amy is a low-level employee at Orsk. It is not that she is dumb or stupid, she just has no ambition to strive for success. If it should come to her, OK, but she does not feel she should have to exert a lot of effort to get there. She feels she is in a mindless factory worker type job. She doesn’t mind expressing her feelings to colleagues and supervisors. Her sarcasm is not appreciated by all.
Brian is Amy’s immediate supervisor at Orsk and doesn’t share Amy’s views. Without demonstrating it early in the novel, he probably feels threatened by Amy. Brian feels comfortable in an environment of rules. He knows the Orsk company guidelines backward and forward to include phrases which when repeated over and over sound like the mantras of cult followers. Brian would like to fire Amy but he wants to do it in the correct way by establishing a record of Amy’s administrative rules infractions so extensive that she will have no opportunities for rebuttal arguments.
Ruth Anne is a Pollyanna type person. As a sales representative at Orsk, she finds good in everything, everyone, and every situation. When confronted with negative information or ill-advised gossip, she spins the negativity into something positive. Ruth Anne is the comfort person everyone goes to for an injection of positivity. She never disappoints. But she has her limits.
Matt is a worker at Orsk and literally does the heavy lifting. Orsk is a furniture store and although it is DIY meaning the furniture requires assembly, the cartons and boxes of furniture are heavy, someone must lug them from point A to point B. Matt has a girlfriend, Trinity, also a sales representative at Orsk. Trinity and Matt are ambitious; Orsk will not be their future. Trinity thinks of a “reality” show focusing on the paranormal. She feels confident in her ability to meet and interact with ghosts. Matt is along for the ride. He doesn’t believe in ghosts but Trinity is hot so Matt encourages her to think he is a believer.
A note about the organization of the novel. It has chapter titles, each one is a description of a piece of furniture sold by Orsk. Be sure to read these descriptions. They are easy to overlook. In my eBook novel, the descriptions are hard to read; they are small and set against a blue background. You should read them all because at number 11, Bodavest, they contribute a lot to the story. The first ten chapter titles prepare the reader for chapter 11 and beyond.
The first two sentences of this novel are interesting considering what is to come. “It was dawn, and the zombies were stumbling through the parking lot, streaming toward the massive beige box at the far end. Later they’d be resurrected by mega doses of Starbucks, but for now, they were the barely living dead.” After reading this, I thought I would be reading a novel with lots of zombies. Not true, at least at first. Until chapter six this is a well-written novel about the daily travails of those not satisfied with their jobs. There is a lot of humor in dialogues to entertain readers while they wait.
There is something strange going on in the store. Amy has had glimpses of a person who should not have been in the store during working hours. He is neither a customer nor an employee. When she tries to speak with him; he runs away. Then there is the graffiti in the bathrooms. It seems to increase in complexity and creativity throughout each business day. And the computerized inventory of furniture is subject to glitches every day, necessitating endless, repeated manual inventory by sales representatives. There is also the occasional disappearing inventory. There is no way Basil can let this continue, especially not with an inspection team soon to arrive from headquarters. Basil forms his own surveillance team, Amy and Ruth Anne, to accompany him on nighttime patrols of the store.
During their first night time patrol, they discover a breached door lock. They also discover Matt and Trinity who have jammed the door so they might return to the store during the night to set up their paranormal recording equipment. Throughout the rest of the novel, the reader will follow the adventures of this team of five as they investigate situations that cannot possibly exist.
Orsk was built on the site of a destroyed medical experimental treatment facility. People committed to the facility were experimented upon by Jonah. The experiments were not authorized. Government workers decided to shut Jonah down but he wanted to protect his work and his subjects from government intervention. So, he stored them for their and his protection, some underwater, some in coffins, some in cages. He called his construction the “Beehive.” His central idea was that all human frailty could be cured through constant, ceaseless, repetitive, and non-meaning work.
Sort of like working at Orsk. Now, Jonah is back but in the body of Carl, the non-customer, non-employee previously spotted by Amy. Jonah sees the possibility of adding five to his beehive. The five do not agree.
The story is fun, the dialogue is entertaining, and the action scenes describing the battles (there are many) between the five and the beehive are violent and graphic. Absolutely no sex going on here; I was surprised. For lovers of the horror and zombie genre, read on (in the novel, not here, no spoilers.