This is a horror story with a cover that looks like an Ikea catalog. I don’t know about you but that caught my attention right away. I’m not usually a fan of horror because I’m a scaredy cat, but sometimes it’s nice to read outside my usual genres. As such I don’t know if this story is original or if it’s full of tropes, I only know that I enjoyed it a lot.
The story is set in the Orsk store which (even the characters admit) is an Ikea knockoff. Someone has been vandalizing the store, so some employees decide to spend the night patrolling the show to catch the culprits in the act. This is obviously a Very Bad Idea because the vandals are not human.
I’ll leave it at that, because part of the fun for me was not knowing just what exactly was wrong with the store — was it ghosts? monsters? a curse? — and I liked the shift from normal slice-of-life account of a day in the life of an Orsk employee to the really creepy stuff going on at night. It helped that I read this book as I was travelling to visit Isa: if you’re alone on a train before dawn you can really appreciate the creepiness of usually crowded spaces when they’re empty and silent.
As for the characters, the story is told from the POV of Amy and I really like her. She avoids most of the usual pitfalls, such as suggesting to split up, and I was really rooting for her. I also rather liked Basil, and the Big Bad is suitably creepy. Some of the characters left me indifferent though, and there was at least one death when I thought, oh well, one less character to keep track of.
There is death, and creepy things, and bloody gory bits that I really hope I won’t dream about at night. Like I said, I’m squeamish. And then the chapter headers that look like pages from an Ikea catalog make a really jarring counterpoint. For me, it works really well.
Again, horror is not my genre so I couldn’t predict the ending at all. I really liked it though, it solves the plot but leaves a couple of things open-ended so I can wonder what’ll happen next. (Not in a baiting-for-sequel wait though, just… I can imagine those characters living on after the end of the book. And I always like it when an author does that.)
I haven’t been converted to horror and I doubt I’ll read other similar books in the future, but I think Horrorstör is an experiment that works and I’d happily recommend it to anyone, though if you’re like me you might feel tempted to keep the lights on at night afterwards.