*This Review is Spoiler Free*
At the beginning of this month I set out to post a few horror-centric reviews in celebration of Halloween. I searched every ‘best of’ horror list I could find and combed through my shelves to find some good horror reads. I expected to be scared senseless by the end of the month and jumping every time I saw my own shadow. That most definitely did NOT happen! I find myself, as October comes to a close, on the cusp of declaring that ‘horror’ is just thrillers with some sort of paranormal activity. I know that there are some real horror stories out there and I actually read a few this month, but novels like Rosemary’s Baby had me outright laughing…hysterically. I snort when I laugh…that’s about the only horrific thing that occurred!
Rosemary’s Baby follows the title character Rosemary, and her husband Guy as they move into a famous apartment complex in Manhattan, New York. They’ve have had their eyes on the apartment for quite some time and are thrilled at the prospect of being able to live there. After pulling out of a rental agreement that they had just recently signed the couple happily move into the ‘Bramford’. Shortly after moving into the Bramford they meet their eccentric, odd, elderly neighbors Minnie and Roman Castevet. On a trip to the building’s laundry area in the basement Rosemary meets Terry, a young woman who is living with the Castevets. Not too long after they meet and become friendly, Terry commits suicide. This sparks an opportunity for an acquaintance to develop between the two couples that leads into a friendship of sorts.
The story is well written. I initially feared that the writing and language used would be a barrier stopping me from understanding the story and from being able to get the mood/tone of the novel. This was not the case and I quite enjoyed the writing style. The story was well thought out and the execution was purposeful. If not for darling Rosemary’s complete naivety and borderline idiocy the story would have been great! I just could NOT get over how ignorant she was about practically E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! By the time we got to the climax of the novel, all I could do was shake the book in frustration and groan “I saw that coming a mile away….and Rosemary sure as F**K should’ve seen it too!”. As we made our way to an attempt at conflict resolution I had already stopped caring about what happened to Rosemary and was slightly wishing something would just kill her so I could be rid of her for what little was left of the book at that point. I want to attribute her lack of overall “life wisdom” to the era in which this novel took place. I’m not knowledgeable on the 60s, so I shall give Rosemary the benefit of the doubt and blame her ignorance on a lack of access to information. Even with that consideration steadily running through my mind while I read the book I still had a hard time reading past Rosemary’s character.
The novel has a very creepy, sinister undertone running throughout and Levin does a fantastic job of conveying that. There were a lot of different things that were done extremely well and a level of suspense that is sustained until whatever revelations occur take place. The writing is very easy to follow and conversational, which adds to the overall readability of the story. I wouldn’t necessarily categorize this novel as a Horror, but as more of a Psychological Thriller with aspects of Suspense and a dash of the Paranormal. Taking out my negative bias towards Rosemary’s character, I think Rosemary’s Baby was a good novel and I can absolutely see why it has been revered as a novel that helped to instigate an obsession with the Occult in North America in the decades following its release. I would recommend this novel to readers who maybe want to try reading some horror, but don’t want to be too traumatized by things jumping at them, going BOO! The novel definitely has that suspenseful factor that will maintain a level of frightful anticipation without being over-the-top. I give this novel between 5 and 6.5 unicorn horns out of 10, depending on which aspect of the novel I’m critiquing.