REVIEW: “Holiday Romance” by Mark Morris

Review of Mark Morris, “Holiday Romance”, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten, edited by Ellen Datlow (Night Shade Books, 2018): 31—54. Purchase Here. Originally published in Black Static #58 (2017). Purchase Here. Reviewed by Rob Francis.

I loved this story. From the opening paragraph I knew that the author’s writing style was going to chime with me, and as soon as it became apparent that the story was set in an English seaside town (smell the nostalgia!) I was on board and fully paid up.

Our protagonist, Skelton (great name), is escaping his failing marriage with a trip to the coastal holiday town he visited as a teenager, and where he had an unrequited infatuation with a girl he’s never forgotten. It isn’t long before he meets an intriguing woman holidaying with her infirm husband, and the police are asking him questions about body parts found on the beach that, impossibly, seem to match his DNA.

I guessed where the story was going quite early on but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it; instead reading it felt more like visiting with an old friend. I was a bit sceptical about the rapidity with which DNA test results became available (pretty swish forensic service in that part of England) but perhaps that’s misplaced.

Overall, this is a lovely story about the decisions we make (or don’t) and their repercussions, and a reminder that all relationships eventually decline, though not all to the same severity or extent. The ending, though disturbing, offers some hope. Highly recommended.