Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Store by Bentley Little
Released: July 1998

If you're prone to judging books by their covers, the copy shown here of The Store will have you thinking there's not much to this particular book. It looks like another one of those ruthless, desert horror stories that take place in a hobunk small town in the middle of nowhere, and creepy shit happens there, like in the movie U-Turn featuring Sean Penn.

So again, if you're a person who often judges a book by its cover, let me tell you that the story in this book is much bigger than its lame cover may indicate.

An evil, satanic version of Walmart

A giant retail discount chain known as The Store opens a store in the small town of Juniper, Arizona. In a town like Juniper, where the economy is driven mainly by local businesses, The Store is a major threat -- especially since you can shop for everything you need at one place and save THOUSANDS of dollars. Pretty soon, The Store buys out all the town's small businesses and takes over the entire town.

And that's not all: The Store also recruits out-of-work locals and subjects them to its sinister corporate training course, which involves passing a series of humiliating and torturous acts (that may, or may not also include sexual assault). *wearing my I'm-going-to-vomit face*

Bill Davis is the only man in town who's been able to resist the luring, mysterious pull of The Store, but unfortunately, his teenage daughters have already managed to get caught under its evil spell.

What I loved about this book

My copy of The Store is a healthy 431 pages, and not one page of it is dull or boring. I love how understated the story is: it reveals just enough about what goes on behind closed doors at The Store without being too specific. This aspect makes the book even more horrifying. At several points throughout the novel, the author describes how one of the female characters keeps coming home with bloody underwear, but doesn't divulge much more than that. The entire novel is just terrifying.

I also enjoy how Bentley Little takes time going into how The Store makes local commerce suffer in Juniper. He creates a world in which a quiet and happy community is beaten down and devastated both financially and emotionally at the hands of The Store. The aftermath is a community of broken, desperate people who will do anything to keep their families safe and food on the table, no matter what the cost.

I'm excited to read more of Bentley Little's backlist. Good thing I've got about three or four more on deck!

Bentley Little's most recent works include The Influence, The Haunted, The Disappearance, and His Father's Son.

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