I know this entire week has been dedicated to book reviews, but I have a feeling that once in a while I’ll have to do more book reviews just to catch up with my reading. But don’t worry, this is the last book review until next Wednesday! After that, I can’t promise anything.
This book has been on my radar for quite a while, but I never took the time to actually read it. But it was available at my local library in Ebook and I was in the mood to read a ghostly horror, so I picked it up. Honestly, it was nothing like what I expected, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Release: Sep. 14, 2014
Synopsis: Orsk is an Ikea equivalent furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. But something is very wrong in this store. During the night, things are mysteriously broken and moved. To investigate, three employees volunteer to stay overnight, one of which is Amy, an unhappy twenty-four year old college drop-out with no plan for the future. But as they walk the hallways of the store, they begin to realize something far more terrifying that even their most chilling nightmares is waiting for them.
There are so many amazing things about this book. Even though it was incredibly short (under 250 pages), the story did not feel incomplete. Anyone who has worked in retail (including myself) can completely relate to the setting of the Ikea-like furniture store. But as the story continues, I was surprised at how well the horror was handled as well. The main characters are surprisingly well-developed, something I find lacking in many good horror books. And some of the deeper themes were even better. But let me break down each aspect.
So, first comes the setting. The first hundred pages or so have very little supernatural things in them and instead focus on introducing and getting to know the store and the five main characters—Amy, Basil, Ruth Anne, Matt, and Trinity. Amy and Basil were my favorite characters, though all of these five characters were well-motivated and quirky. I loved the setting as I haven’t read any horror books set in a furniture store. It makes for a unique setting and the author utilizes this uniqueness well.
The beginning starts out almost as a sarcastic comedy, lulling you into the assumption that this book is very much a comedic horror. But later on, the book definitely takes a darker twist, which I’ll talk more about in the spoiler section.
The horror was also pretty terrifying, mostly because it plays are very real fears. For example, being stuck in an enclosed space (like a wardrobe) or drowning in water. Because many of the horrifying moments were so vividly but simply described, I could really feel what the characters were feeling. When someone hurt their hand in a horrific manner, I could imagine my own hand being hurt in such a way. I find most books do not have this power over me, so I was rather impressed.
My favorite line, by far, came from Basil, the manager, who said, “It’s starting to feel like an episode of Scooby-Doo.” This encompasses exactly how I see this book. It’s an adult version of Scooby-Doo, with some humor and lots of running around.
The book itself was…interestingly organized. The print was super big, which didn’t really bother me when I read it on Ebook, but I know it would if I read it in real book form. The chapter pictures at the beginning of each chapter were also interesting to look at, especially as they became darker as the story continued, as were the various pictures throughout the book.
But I cannot go any further into my review without a lot of spoilers, so let’s go!
I loved the ghost story within this novel. So, for those who don’t mind the entire mystery spoiled, I’m going to give away the ghost plot. In the 19th century, there was a prison where Orsk now stands. The prison was run by this crazy guy named Warden Josiah Worth, who was obsessed with curing his prisoners, who he dubbed “Penitents.” So he experimented on them and tortured them (like any normal crazy warden would do). His crimes were discovered and his prison torn down. That is, until Orsk was built on the spot, and he began haunting the furniture store, along with his hundreds of “Penitents.”
Worth’s character was fascinating. He made an excellent villain, a man who truly believed what he was doing would help people, but so messed up he was actually hurting them. His motto is “Work Makes You Free” (pg. 297 in Ebook), which is very reminiscent to me of Auschwitz (along with many German work camps), where they would put the sign “Arbeit macht frei” (work makes you free) above the camp entrance. It was chilling reality of this fictional ghost story, though I’m not sure if Hendrix was referencing the Nazis when he made this Worth’s motto.
One unique touch about the chapter pictures is that in the beginning they show products sold by Orsk and explain what it is, but around Chapter 11 (at least that’s when I started noticing it), the products change to Worth’s torture devices. I thought that was a nice touch as the story gets more horrifying.
I loved Amy’s character. She was lost and unhappy. In the beginning of the book it was clear she was looking for a purpose in life, but she didn’t really care about anything. During one point later on in the book, she escapes from the building alone, while everyone else is still inside. She debates about whether she should simply leave, but decides to go back in to save them. This speaks volumes of her character, as does the ending (I’ll get to that in a moment). In the beginning, she doesn’t care, but by the end, she does. I love this change in her character. She goes from not wanting to be there to truly wanting to help the people she works with. Though she is a highly flawed character, she is good, and I liked that about her.
Now, let’s get to the ending.
Again, big spoilers! In the end, only Amy and Basil escapes, and the Orsk company decide to cover up the incident, even though Ruth Anne, Matt, and Trinity are still inside and possibly alive in the ghostly dimension. Orsk even buys Amy’s and Basil’s silence to keep the media from learning the real story. A year later, a new baby-themed store has been built where Orsk once stood. Amy gets a job there and goes at night to enter the ghostly realm to find her three missing friends. Basil shows up as well, apparently with the same idea, and there the story ends, with a possibility of a sequel.
I loved this ending! When Amy and Basil escaped and the incident was covered up, I felt extremely unsatisfied, especially as Amy seemed to have given up too. But, in the end, she was a truly strong protagonist that would not give up.
Honestly, I had very little complaints about this book. It could have been longer, and both Trinity and Matt could have been more developed, but it is rare for me to not notice any glaring issues without a book. Saying that, it does take a certain reader to like this book. For example, if you are averse to occasional swearing, don’t read it. If you don’t like grotesque horror scenes, skip it.
Have you heard of this book? Read it? Let me know your thoughts down below in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,