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.
◆ An ARC was provided by Quirk for review ◆
Okay, I feel bad for starting out this way, but I didn’t like the layout of this book. I’ll still give the cover major points for creativity, though. Making it look like a furniture catalog is really clever, and the tiny hints in the pictures that reveal it as a horror story are brilliant. That being said, I just felt like the book was really clunky, and it was almost maddening for me that the print only filled half of the pages, leaving a whole column blank. I almost expected something like The Lifespan of a Fact, where there were notes in the margins throughout the whole book, but it didn’t happen. I think that if there had been something like that, not necessarily just notes but also signs in the store or even a few illustrations, it would’ve made the page formatting more understandable.
The only thing I really liked about the layout was the use of illustrations, both the cover art and the pictures featured at the beginning of each chapter. In the chapters, they gradually go from being things you would normally expect to see in a furniture store (couches, chairs, tables, etc.) to torture devices, tying into the big reveal about the store. The slow progression was very smart, and I loved how the objects were featured in the chapters, sometimes without names and it was kind of fun having to go back and figure out which was the "featured torture device," if you will.
As for the story, it was really good; there were moments when it made me think back to some horror films, like the original Night of the Living Dead and Poltergeist. Good as it was overall, I can't really say that applies to the first third or so. It was mostly setting up how bad a day it is for our protagonist, Amy. Honestly, this first part was a major slog to get through, and even though I think the intention was for the reader to sympathize with Amy, she doesn’t come across as very likable throughout this section. Since the novel is told in third person, I was hoping that the narrative would show us what was happening to other characters but it didn’t happen.
I especially would've liked this when all the weirdness started to go down, mostly because I wanted to see the reactions of our other main character, Basil. Where Amy is rash and headstrong, Basil is really rational and a strong rule-follower, and he's also revealed to be a big fan of Dr. Who, so maybe he's more open to the idea of the supernatural than we might be led to believe. Since he is African American and acts as a leader, he reminded me a lot of Ben from Night of the Living Dead, played by Duane Jones. This is all the more reason why I would've liked to have seen things from his perspective, to see how he finally figured out that what was happening was for real.
When it comes to the big reveal, I felt like it wasn’t complete. The less-than-reputable characters are the ones who talk about it, but because they aren’t the most trustworthy, you don’t know whether or not to believe what they say. It turns out to be true, but I wanted to know more. Part of the inside cover ties into the revelation, as do the torture devices featured at the beginning of later chapters, but what was lacking was information about the names and lists that are featured in the inside cover and in one particular illustration in the middle of a chapter.
I also wasn’t sure what to make of the epilogue. It seemed to come to an uneasy resolution, but then the last few pages set up either the possibility of a sequel, or at least of a few more chapters. Or maybe it was meant to show that the predicament was never going to end either way. There's no definite answer, and maybe there is going to be a sequel in the future. That being said, it's still a pretty ominous ending, as could be expected from a horror story either way, but it just felt too uncertain for me.
For the most part, I liked this book. Besides hating the layout and the first part of the story, I loved the rest of it up until the epilogue. There were plenty of good scares, and the suspense was well done. I’m not sure whether or not to expect a sequel, so I have mixed feelings about the ending. Also the physical book itself kind of hurt my overall enjoyment, but it might not bother everyone. All I can tell you for sure is that I'm not going to be stepping into an IKEA store anytime soon.