HORRORSTÖR

By Grady Hendrix

Quirk. 248 pp. $14.95

If you spent last weekend wandering anxiously through a dizzying maze of fake rooms filled with peculiar objects and doors to nowhere, you may have been at the Manor, the triple-skull-rated haunted house at Fright Fest, the annual Halloween extravaganza at Six Flags.

Or you might have been at Ikea.

That’s the witty premise of Grady Hendrix’s new novel, “Horrorstör.” Set at an Ohio branch of an “all-American furniture superstore in Scandinavian drag” called Orsk, “Horrorstör” delivers a crisp terror-tale that’s perfect for passing time between carving pumpkins and planning costumes.

“Horrorstor” by Grady Hendrix. (Quirk /Handout)

The story opens at dawn, of course, and it centers on a group of ragtag Orsk employees who are recruited by their boss Basil, “a taller Urkel from ‘Family Matters,’ ”) to spend the night and investigate a recent rash of crimes against the store: mattresses hacked to shreds, smeared feces on a “Brooka” sofa, etc. “If a vandal is sneaking in and trashing the place, we’ll bust him and call the cops,” Basil says. “Problem solved.”

At the beginning of the night, things are only a dog short of a Scooby-Doo episode. Mysterious graffiti and stained ceiling tiles appear, the store’s secret past as a 19th-century prison is revealed, and a ghost is caught on camera. But the crew also learns that an entrance has been left open all night, so there’s probably a logical explanation for it all.

Except that evil, like flat-pack furniture, often defies logic.

This book wears its zany charm on its cover. “Horrorstör” is such a dead ringer for an Ikea catalogue that you could easily mistake it for junk mail. Inside, its mock product descriptions get darker and funnier as the book progresses. The “Bodavest” chair, for example, “confines the penitent and opposes the agitated movement of blood toward the brain.”

Hendrix strikes a nice balance between comedy and horror. When the night watch holds a séance, one character pretends to channel the customer from hell. “I want . . . to speak . . . to your manager,” she moans. Later, Basil comes across a gruesome scene. “‘There is a dead man on the Franjk! And Corporate is going to be here in’ — he looked at his watch — ‘five hours!’ ”

The author also gives us amusing characters. The most memorable is Amy Porter, a down-on-her-luck employee who worries she’ll be “stuck on the hamster wheel forever, stuck in retail forever, stuck at Orsk forever.”

Early in the book, Amy whines about Basil’s plan, and an older colleague gives her a valuable lesson: “Life doesn’t care what you want, other people don’t care what you want. All that matters is what you do. . . . So get up, put some pepper in your pants, and let’s get moving.”

It’s advice that might keep this shift from being Amy’s last.

Wilwol is a writer in Washington.

HORRORSTÖR

By Grady Hendrix

Quirk. 248 pp. $14.95