• Jonathan Wheatley Writer

Rosemary's Baby Review

So, later than expected and slower than usual, I finally finished my first book of 2020!

It was an unexpected gift from my mum at Christmas, who is usually pretty spot on with my book tastes and the genres I’m reading. The only problem people have when buying books for me is that if I see a book, I usually buy it myself! The book in question this time is Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin.

Ira Levin is well-known for writing The Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil as well as Rosemary’s Baby which is credited for bringing Satanism and Occultism to the mainstream and ultimately led to The Exorcist and The Omen; exposing a generation to Satan in books and movies.

Rosemary’s Baby was Levin’s second novel, released in 1967. It sold over 4 million copies and helped launch the ‘Horror Boom’ of that time. The book follows Rosemary and her husband Guy who is a struggling actor. They are looking for the perfect apartment and come across the Bramford building. However, the building has a dark and haunting history.

After they move in their kindly old neighbours make quick friends with them and that’s when their normal life gets turned upside down. A serious of coincidences (that I won’t spoil here) lead to Rosemary falling pregnant. If I said any more I would ruin the book, and I wouldn’t want to do that for you dear reader.

In 1968, only a year after it was published, Rosemary’s Baby was turned into a feature film starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes and directed by Roman Polanski. It was nominated for several Academy Awards, and Ruth Gordon, who played one of the neighbours, won the Best Supporting Actress award.

It is the normality of the book, told entirely in third-person limited-past tense, that makes it such a great read. It is a slow-burner with the terror not unfolding till the final fifty pages as Rosemary starts to fully realise what’s happening around her.

Is it scary? Yes, in the way that horror stories should be told, insidiously and mysteriously moving as we realise at the same time as Rosemary what is truly going on. With an expertly-crafted build-up leading to a crescendo of horror, this is a beautifully written book that makes you feel as though you truly are with Rosemary during her pregnancy and going through her life at the Bramford.

If you haven’t seen the film read the book first and if you have seen the film, go and find the book and read it anyway.

Jonathan Wheatley is a British Horror Novelist and film and book geek. His debut novel, The Priory is released on the 21st April 2020.

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