REVIEW: “Alligator Point” by S.P. Miskowski

Review of S.P. Miskowski, “Alligator Point”, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten, edited by Ellen Datlow (Night Shade Books, 2018): 231—237. Purchase Here. Originally published in Looming Low Volume 1, edited by Justin Steele and Sam Cowan (Dim Shores). Purchase Here. Reviewed by Rob Francis.

A small slice of domestic psychological horror that is one of the milder tales in the volume, especially coming as it does after Brian Hodge’s West of Matamoros, North of Hell. Helen is fleeing a domestic situation with her twin girls, who think they are going on vacation. Keeping a low profile, they stop to camp at Alligator Point, where the only others present are an elderly couple in the next tent along, but it doesn’t provide the respite she had hoped.

Based on the references to Burton and Taylor, the story seems to be set in the early 1970s. It’s a brief, simple story that doesn’t hold any shocks or surprises, but presents a thoughtful and sad tale that reminds us that all relationships are difficult (see also Burton and Taylor) and (arguably) none of us really have a happy ending coming. I was also intrigued by the possibility that Helen is an unreliable narrator, as although the reader initially interprets her condition as a victim of abuse, some of the comments made, the way the daughters act and the ultimate denouement suggest that things may – or indeed may not – be a bit more complicated than that.