The Real Horror in Horrorstor

By: Danielle Coty (friend of the Course of Horror)

My journey to reading Horrorstor began when I became hooked on reading Grady Hendrix’s reviews of “Under the Dome.” His intensely sarcastic reviews, which became more desperate as the show went on, made me laugh. Even though I didn’t watch the show, I became invested in the weekly articles. When the season ended I discovered he had written a horror book.

As soon as I looked at the book I knew I had to get it. Its vibrant layout appeared remarkably similar to an Ikea catalog. At this time I only saw the front cover, and I didn’t catch the creepy undertones. I saw a cheerfully colored couch, not the screaming face that looms out of the picture frame on the wall above it. It wasn’t until later that I gave the back cover a thoughtful glance. Then my roommate and I went through the chapter pages before I read the book. Each one features an item with a fake-swedish name on the blue Ikea layout. But the descriptions of the items become increasingly sinister.

Yet when I sat down to read the book I still was not fully aware that it was a horror book. Instead the book starts off mocking Ikea. The new employees are trained to guide customers along the “Bright and Shining Path,” a route that has been engineered to make customers most likely to buy items. One could argue Ikea is naturally horrifying. In fact, the Wall Street Journal even published an entertaining article about how purchasing and assembling Ikea furniture has led to couples breaking up.

Despite the fact that Horrorstor includes torture, ghostly possession, and what might be categorized as zombies, I thought the scariest message was about the consequences of being trapped in a terrible job forever. With steady pressure to choose the right career, many college students fear that instead of finding a job that will inspire and support them, they will be trapped in a mindless daze for forty hours a week. The analogy Hendrix draws between working at Orsk and being a prisoner in an authoritarian prison with a devilish warden is rather obvious, but I don’t think the book suffers from that. Instead it made me think of my experience straightening shelves for hours after the store had closed, making it appear perfect so that customers could return to wreak their usual havoc in the morning. While some people may have found such a task rewarding, such as Ruth Anne in Horrorstor, I quickly figured out that job was not right for me.

Even if most of the events in Horrorstor are not everyday concerns, and being kidnapped by zombie-inmates is not high on my personal list of fears, Hendrix makes them more frightening by placing them in something that seems normal and everyday. With the sinister plot of Horrorstor hidden behind its colorful cover, it has been easy for me to recommend it to numerous friends. Sitting on a table, it appears ever-so enticingly like an Ikea catalog while the story within waits to snag unsuspecting readers. Even in the unlikely case that you dislike the book (so far everyone has loved it) I guarantee your next trip to Ikea will feel quite strange.

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