I started the week hopeful and optimistic – with my Top Ten Tuesday: Spring Cleaning post, and a job interview. So far, not so good. I already dnf’ed one of the books, and even though the interview went well, I don’t have enough experience, which meant I didn’t get the job. Despite this, it was a good interview and a good experience – plus, I didn’t panic. So that’s a win for me. Initially, this post was supposed to be my weekly update, but because of the dnf…I just really need to get some things off my chest.
Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix
“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 is designed to retain its luster and natural appearance for a lifetime of use. Pleasingly proportioned with generous French flaps and a softcover binding, Horrorstör delivers the psychological terror you need in the elegant package you deserve.
Designed by Andie Reid, cover photography by Christine Ferrara.”
I had high hopes for this book. The premise seemed fun, following a young woman working in retail – Orsk, a knock-off Ikea chain in the US. Weird stuff happens, it’s a haunted house setting, but is instead set in a huge store.
What I liked
A lot of thought was brought in to this book, the design and execution of it is awesome. The book itself is set up like a catalogue and in between chapters you get these furniture designs, with little writings about them and their functions. Very fun. I also appreciate how the book uses illustrations to tell a story. There’s a point where some graffiti mysteriously appears, and the illustrations for these were detailed and fun to analyse.
The mystery and the spooky parts are well done – when we get there. We get to the spooky parts at what’s almost the halfway point of the book – this is disappointing, especially because the book is quite short.
To the rant
What brought this book way down for me, are the characters. Our main character is not at all likeable, her manager is not likeable, and her coworkers are not likeable. Amy, our MC, is a college drop-out, with a wish to become independent – which is understandable. Due to changes in her family’s finances, she no longer qualifies for financial aid to continue attending college. This sucks. I know. Since she dropped out, she now works in retail at Orsk – a knock-off Ikea. Working in retail can be a horror in itself, however, she doesn’t connect with any of her coworkers. She looks down on everyone and everything. She acts as though she is better than everyone else, while also understanding how stuck she is. I get that she’s angry and that she feels trapped – at one point during the story, it ends up feeling like a contest on who has got the crappier life – her or her manager. She does not get along with her coworkers and acts as though she just barely tolerates them. It only seems like Amy gets along with one of her colleagues – Ruth Anne – who is the token perfect employee and coworker. You know the one. The one everybody likes, who remembers birthdays and always tries to stay as positive as possible. So of course, Amy likes her as well. For me, it tells us a lot about Amy’s character that she doesn’t seem to have any friends. She’s pushing everyone away from her. She wants to move on but does not want to put any of the work into it. I find her whiny and annoying and half-way through the book, I could not find anything redeemable about her.
If it was only Amy I found annoying, I might be able to get through the book…but it’s everyone. They are all annoying. The manager acts as though he sees something in Amy – like she can become something in Orsk, but we see none of those qualities. It is also clear, that she does not want Orsk- or at least not the Orsk in that location, and she definitely does not like her manager. He is also BUTTHURT because she does not worship the institution that is Orsk. He comes off as that sanctimonious guy who forces his religion upon others who do not have the same beliefs as him. I cannot stand it. If she says she’s not interested then STOP harassing her! Besides the manager, we have Trinity and Matt. Trinity is our manic pixie dream girl, who believes in the paranormal and is also preachy about it and pushes her opinions about the paranormal upon EVERYONE. She has no off-button. She’s also the type of girl who can wrap a guy around her little finger, and manipulate him to do what she wants. Which she does to Matt. Matt the hipster. Matt the hipster with a beard, and a crush on Trinity. Matt is the man who believes in science, but lies his way close to Trinity, bending the truth to make it sound like he believes in ghosts. Not only is he also manipulative, but for some reason, he walks around with five sets of handcuffs in his bag. FIVE SETS OF HANDCUFFS! Why?! What reason do you have to carry around so many handcuffs?! I can understand one set of handcuffs if you’re into a bit of fun in between break at work, but why would you need five?!
All but Ruth Anne act like kids, who all want their own way, and will stump on the floor and get into tantrums if they don’t get it. Trinity does this, and everybody reacts like they need to comfort her because she’s crying. She’s an adult crying because a guy lies about believing in ghosts, and she still tries to convince him while she’s crying. Nothing comes of this. She stops, and they start working on doing a seance, and out comes the handcuffs!
When we focus on the mystery and the spooky parts of the book, it’s interesting, but then someone opens their mouth and ruins it all. I just can’t. I do not want to waste my time on characters that annoy me so much. It ruins the fun of reading. I understand that people are flawed, but they also need some redeeming qualities. Redeeming qualities that will make me root for them. I feel like, I at least should have seen something good in our main character half-way through the book. Is it too much to ask for?
Note: AND ALSO this book is supposed to be horror/humour/satire. Where’s the humour. Is it the stab at capitalism and Ikea? Is it how the book is designed? How relatable it is, with the horrors of working in retail? I’m not sure, I just thought the design was cool.
Sorry for the wall of text, I’m irritated and need to vent.
If you’ve read Horrorstör and enjoyed it, please tell me why. I’m open for discussion – I might have missed something that you can help point out to me. But so far, this is a book I will not be picking up again.
And now for something completely different: My boy is adorable af
Pretty boy Balder
Things might not always go as planned, but at least I can take a look at this boy and get the smile back on my face. I just wanted to share the cuteness 🙂