Sunday, November 16, 2014

Retail Hell

I haven't read enough horror novels to speak to how they compare to each other, or whether the author is doing something mind-blowing vs. old hat.  As the poet says, I don't know much, but I know what I like.

Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix, is something I like.  It actually kind of reminds me of the movie The Descent, in that it starts out as one kind of story and turns into another one.  At first, it's about the horror of retail, the petty indignities and frustrations of working a low-paying job for a big corporation.  This is the cave part of The Descent, when you're watching a good movie about spelunking.

There are hints at what's coming, but you're fully halfway through the book before things truly go to Hell.  When they do, we spin around and now, instead of a creepy, ominous night in a store with some scary stuff going down, reality quite suddenly bends itself backward and you're reading John Dies at the End

So Amy is a struggling drone at Orsk, which is most certainly not Ikea, oh no, no way.  She's afraid she's about to be fired, but when her boss asks her and a coworker to spend the night in the store to try to catch the vandals who are causing problems, she jumps at the overtime.

So Basil, Amy, and Ruth Ann spend the night at Orsk, and creepy stuff happens, and they are joined by Matt and Trinity, who are sure that the store is haunted, and creepy things happen, and it turns out that the store is built on a graveyard or an insane asylum or something and WHOA MY GOD THERE IS ANOTHER REALITY BEHIND THE WALLS. 

So the horror part of it is probably just good, solid standard horror writing--I haven't read a lot of it and can't speak to it in comparison with other things.  What I loved about it was the juxtaposition of Ikea--sorry, Orsk--and the big-box, clean and manageable reality with the dark, inexplicable stuff.  Even before it gets all horror, the difference between the showroom floor and the break room is worth reading about, and Amy's journey from struggling to focused is worth watching. 

I also loved how the group of employees showed a range of relationships of people with work--Basil LOVES Orsk, and while he may take it too far, you come to like it about him.  Ruth Ann and Matt and Trinity--they all have their own reasons for being there, and I think that's my favorite part of the book.

In fact, I feel like the resolution to the real supernatural part is kind of a letdown, not because it's not what it should be--it's just the right ending--but because it happens so suddenly.  It's all unfolding, and then the action (and Amy's change of heart, etc) just wrap up all of a sudden.  The coda was way longer than the meaty part of the climax, which is pretty much my only complaint here.

So: profound, no, but fun?  Hell yes.  Emphasis on "hell."

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