As self storage continues to become a bigger part of American life, it’s only natural that it will increasingly become a setting for stories. In 2015, I reviewed the independent film Primer, a hard science fiction movie from 2004 about two engineers who accidentally discover how to time travel, and do so out of a self storage unit.
Recently, I read the novel Self Storage by New York Times bestselling author Jay Bonansinga, another fictional foray into the world of self storage.
Father and Son
To start with, let’s be thankful that this thriller is just a fantastical tale, because the storage facility central to the novel is a terrifying place. This should come as no surprise, considering that Bonansinga has also worked on The Walking Dead book series.
The main character, John Fitzgerald, is a top graphic designer maintaining a 20-year heroin addiction. His ex-wife asks him to take their son, Jacob, for Christmas vacation right when a client asks him to finish a job. He figures he has a few hours to pick up Jacob, visit his self storage unit for some pieces of art he needs to finish the project, then to go to his client’s office and get the work done. Then, he and Jacob can enjoy the rest of Christmas time.
I must mention something about his son here. Jacob, or Jake, is a highly intelligent six-year-old fascinated with Hell and demons thanks to the priest at his mother’s church and to John’s hyperrealistic art for comic books and games. Strange things happen around Jacob, like all the faucets in his mother’s home turning on overnight. He also claims he once made a demon figurine jump with his mind.
The Storage Facility
Though Jake would rather not go to his father’s self storage unit, John has to get his job done and assures Jake everything will be fine. The facility, though, is unlike any other. Built into an old iron mine, the underground part of the fictional self storage facility has levels going down about a half a mile underground.
Perhaps you can guess what happens next. John and Jake make it to the underground unit. While inside, the sliding door slams shut, and becomes impossible to reopen. This happens on December 23, when the owners are leaving for their Christmas vacation.
Stress, Fear, and Heroin Withdrawal
Bonansinga creates a terrifying situation for John Fitzgerald. The protagonist is trapped with no water, food, or way to contact anyone, and about to go through heroin withdrawal, all while having to protect and nurture his six-year-old son.
Then, the supernatural comes after them.
I can’t give any more specifics without getting deep into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say, John and Jake go through hell in that cavernous self storage dungeon. The novel delves into themes of family, parenthood, bravery, and drug addiction.
For horror and thriller lovers, this is a great read with excellent character development and plenty of cliffhangers. I lost track of time and nearly stayed up all night to finish it! Just don’t let your fears cross over to actual self storage, which is quite safe.