MFM! I'm finally up to date, waiting for the Thursday drop dates. So I returned to my original podcast love: Get Booked by Book Riot.
Since I've listened to the show for years, I'm familiar with so many of their sort of stock-recs: the ones they love enough to recommend periodically, whenever they hear the keywords that remind them why these books are so fantastic.
Horrorstör is one that's been in the back of my mind, floating around as something I was interested in, since whenever the first time I heard them describe it was. But in that funny way that sometimes happen, I heard them bring it up again, and pulled out my schedule to see when I had time for the bookstore.
Which is funny! The book has a great balance of humor and spook. If handled differently, either of these could've negated the other: but instead, the satire is humorous but also eerie, and the scary bits can be really, truly scary (trigger warning for body horror and a potpourri of other standard horror movie fare.)
The illustrations interspersed within the book were so expertly done. The diagrams of furniture (both benign and diabolical) were so...IKEA. And the breakdown of how the Corporate regulations and verbiage are designed to disorient and control you was at once humorous, thought-provoking, and downright unsettling.
This isn't a full 5 stars from me, only because the story wasn't terrible original: Spoilers ahead, the spirits haunting the Orsk were the inmates of a 19th century prison on the same land, who were murdered by the unhinged Warden. It's a super run-of-the-mill horror film plot: so much so that it almost seems, as I write it out, that it could be a part of the satire as well, but it wasn't played for laughs. It was just very meh.
However, the characters and their interactions were fabulous. I loved the store manager, Basil: he's a lawful-good type, quoting the employee handbook and fretting over the Corporate inspection scheduled for the next day. He was such a good dude! Definitely infuriating, and nobody I'd want for my boss, but I also couldn't help but love him.
Overall, I thought it was a fantastic premise, and it was pulled off really well: the way the IKEA/bix box retail store elements went hand in hand with the horror plot was really well executed. The ghosts themselves were pretty predictable, but having a haunted house story set in something that is at once a house and not a house was undeniably fun to read.