My Haunted Library

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Review: The Store

A mysterious store offers tempting high-end bargain goods, but people’s excitement wanes when they realize cost may be their lives.

The Store—Bentley Little, 1996. Rating: 3.5/5

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The small desert town of Juniper, Arizona is thrilled when The Store, a discount chain offering every product imaginable, comes to town. Heck, The Store even has an espresso café and sushi bar. What more could people want? No more long drives to malls at Flagstaff or Phoenix. Work-from home tech writer Bill, however, is wary. He hates The Store’s slash and burn construction approach, and notices in alarm that animals come to die in droves in The Store’s parking lot.

The Store starts exerting…untoward influence. There are disappearances. Sightings of the spectral and terrifying Night Managers. Bill and two of his buddies know they need to do something to stop The Store—especially when Bill’s two teenage daughters get jobs there. But fighting The Store isn’t so easy. A contract is a contract, after all.

The Store is not subtle. It is not woke. It was originally published in 1996. The social commentary hits you like a blunt force object. There are gobs of things to get offended by including some cringeworthy sexually charged scenes; one in particular that breaks a deep-seated taboo. Little doesn’t play by convention. Nothing is sacred, and everyone will find something to be icked out over.

But you know what? The story is a fun ride. Little has a knack for creating everyday, generally likeable characters, and subjecting them to profoundly twisted situations (i.e., pure evil), to see what they’re made of. Everyone is fallible, but some have stronger mettle than others.

The Store will stick with you, which may or may not be a good thing: The next time you drive by a big box store after closing, see if you’re not fearfully scanning for Night Managers behind the darkened windows. And you’ll probably nervously promise to give a little more support to small businesses.

Happy Halloween!