Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Book Review: ROSEMARY'S BABY by Ira Levin

Author: Ira Levin
Read: January 2018
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book Description:

Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor-husband Guy move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an onimous reputation and only elderly residents. Neighbours Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome them and, despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises she keeps hearing, her husband starts spending time with them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare.

As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to suspect that the Castavet's circle is not what it seems.

My musings:

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to read this horror classic! And what a journey it was – Levin truly is a master of suspense, slowly introducing small, sinister details into the storyline until you are not only terrified of what could be going on, but are also constantly questioning each and every character’s truthfulness and motives.

Every good horror story relies on an atmospheric location, and the “Bram” provided the perfect backdrop for this tale. A big old Victorian apartment building in New York, its facade festooned with sinister gargoyles, it also hides a dark history of strange events having happened behind its walls – including a pair of elderly sisters (the Trench sisters) who ate children, a dead infant found in the laundry room and a Satanist! Despite this history, the building is a highly sought after residence with a long waiting list, so when Rosemary and Guy find out that a vacancy has become available, they are ecstatic. Nothing can mar their excitement of living in one of the most coveted locations in the city, not even their friend Hutch’s warning that the house may be dangerous. In fact, Guy makes fun of this, joking to his young wife one evening that he can hear “the Trench sisters chewing”.

It is Rosemary who is the first to notice that something is not right – from the sinister laundry room to her vivid nightmares, and the apparent suicide of the girl next door, who she had recently befriended. Things escalate at the time she finds out that she is pregnant, and from here on there is a constant undertone of menace to the story that dialled my heart rate up a few notches. I love the skill of being able to slowly introduce fear into a narrative, so subtly that you don’t notice until the inevitable downhill slide has begun. Soon Rosemary has her back against the wall with no one to turn to, and this is when things get really scary.

Whilst the ending may not appeal to everyone, it is totally fitting for the era of the 1960’s and its political climate. Some details were almost like time travel, which I enjoyed nearly as much as the goosebumps. Rosemary’s Baby is a slim book, which makes for a quick but powerful read. If you are like me and have procrastinated because horror is not really your genre, so yourself a favour and give this one a go – it’s totally worth it! I must make sure to look up the author’s other books.

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