by Grady Hendrix
Published by Quirk Books in 2014.
The other week I had the pleasure of attending the Young to Publishing conference in New York City. The experience was definitely a memorable one and helped to remind me why I chose publishing as a profession to begin with.
One of the panels I attended was with a group of editors. The panel discussed many aspects of the editorial process, and at the end a question came up about pitching books at sales conference (for those who don’t work in publishing, sales conference is when editorial has the first opportunity to pitch books to the sales force in order to get them behind the upcoming books). One of the panel members mentioned that most of the books people (and sales) tend to get behind have strong, clear pitches.
I bring this up, because I can imagine there was no clearer or more catching pitch than the one for Grady Hendrix’s new book Horrorstor:
It’s a haunted house story set in an Ikea.
It’s simple and effective, and the book makes ample use of this premise.
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom. (Goodreads)
Horrorstor is a fully immersive reading experience — from the chapter titles (all named after faux-Swedish furniture names) to the layout (it resembles an Ikea catalog in format and some content). While the story is actually set in an Ikea knock-off store called Orsk, it feels like it could be set in just about any big box store and anyone who has ever worked in retail will recognize some of the characters and experiences. At times it will probably seem eerily similar, and this is because at its heart Horrorstor is an extremely clever and psychologically creepy book. It’s also got a touch of dark humor running through it.
Horrostor will make you question everything you know about retail and, quite possibly, will make you never want to shop in a big box store ever again.
Final thoughts: If you are easily scared or don’t like horror movies or ghost stories, you might find this book to be a bit too much to handle. I tried not to read it late at night. Fans of the horror genre will likely be familiar with much of what’s going on, but I still think the book has a lot to offer.