Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Brooka glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofa beds – clearly someone, or something, is up to no good. To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-till-dawn shift and encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new 21st-century economy.
Author: Grady Hendrix
Narrators: Tai Sammons & Bronson Pinchot
Audio Release Date: 23/09/2014
Running Time: 6hrs 16mins
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
My Rating of ‘Horrorstör’: 1 out of 5
Horrorstör is one of those books that, as a keen horror fan, I’ve seen bouncing around on review sites since its release back in 2014. As a keen horror fan, I wish I’d left it bouncing around on those sites where it had a chance to be enjoyed by people rather than actively disliked by myself.
For my own, personal, experience, there were very few saving graces to be found within Horrorstör. What few there were simply weren’t enough to drag it up from a one star score as everything I disliked about it weighed too heavily against it.
The positives: 1. It was short. When that is given as a positive, it’s pretty much a negative as well. It says that, were the book of any greater length, the reviewer quite simply would have struggled. I would have struggled. 2. For the first thirty percent or so it went by relatively quickly and I was actually quite interested before the overnight stay in the store happened. I was curious, my spooky senses were tingling … and then I was hit in the face with a spooky spade rather than tickled, teased and tantalised with a spooky tendril.
The negatives, for my money, were a bit more weighty. I felt the characters, practically all of them, were very unbelievable. Not a single one read like they could have been a real person. They either loved their job with more fervour than devout Christians love Jesus Christ, or loved whatever other character trait the author gave them with similar, if not even more zeal. Pretty much every character had only one aspect to them. That was either work horse, paranormal geek, womaniser etc … and none of them were really allowed to branch out and have a second interest. Such instances of refusing to call the police when there are laws being broken because ‘I love my job’ not only made zero sense, but made me want to bang my head against the wall as it just felt incredibly forced. You could tell the author knew the police should have been called, decided he didn’t want it to happen, so just shoe-horned a hard-to-swallow reason not to into the paragraph.
And everyone swallowed that reason.
Another reason this book failed to hit the sweet spots with me is that I like my horror to be a bit more slow-burn. Give things a chance to transition from non-belief, to ‘oh, damn, something odd is happening here’, to ‘yup, there’s such a thing as the paranormal.’ What we got here was non-belief into full-belief in the space of a chapter or two with zero effort at making it feel like there was anything other than a switch being flipped. Everything about the horror in Horrorstör was very in your face which made it far less frightening. It had the feeling of a B-movie horror flick more than an actual thought out horror novel. However, having read ‘The Final Girl Support Group’ by the same author, I do wonder if that is simply the style he goes for and it’s just not something that fits my personal preference.
I also felt the ending was a mixture of shoe-horned in, out of the blue and straight up forced. I managed to breeze through this in the space of a couple of days due to the fact that I was listening rather than reading. Were I reading a physical copy of this, I think I would seriously have struggled.
The narration was also a very weak aspect of this. It was split between a female narrator (who narrated the whole of the novel) and a male narrator (who narrated the pointless after chapter inserts advertising furniture). The female narrator had zero emotion to her. If nothing was happening, she read in a very flat, ‘I’m just reading words off a page’ kind of way. If something fast-paced and action-packed was happening, she read in a very flat, ‘I’m just reading words off a page’ kind of way. If the characters were under massive stress, pain, terror etc … she read in a very flat, ‘I’m just reading words off a page’ kind of way. There was also next to no effort to differentiate between the voices of the characters. Her overall reading and narration wasn’t bad, it was just the effort that should have been present, wasn’t. The male narrator just didn’t need to be there. The furniture adverts were pointless and served as nothing other than adding a few extra pages to a short novel.
I doubt I’ll try any more of Hendrix’s work unless something really stands out in the future.