Review: Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

If you have not read the classic horror novel Rosemary’s Baby yet, you should.

Ira Levin brings the horror home with Rosemary’s Baby, the book where you know what is going to happen but still manage to get surprised when it happens. Let us face it – the cover of the book says it all. It has a picture of a stroller with a devil’s tail sticking out from it. We also know this is a gothic novel. So why do we still get so shocked at the end of the book when Rosemary Woodhouse gives birth to the Devil’s son? What is it that makes this such a fascinating read?

The story is systematically built up in three parts, starting with a young couple moving into an old apartment in the Upper-West Side of Manhattan, New York. The year is 1967, a time where people are starting to understand how the world works when it comes to medicine, science and nature disasters. The slogan “God is dead,” gets mentioned early in the book, but as the horror comes sneaking, Rosemary soon gets her faith back again.

Rosemary gets told not to read books about pregnancy or listening to any of her friends’ advices even though they have went through the exact same thing. She is in a lot of pain and has to stick with a controversial doctor, an old couple living next door who cares a bit too much, and her selfish, budding actor-husband who spends more time with their old neighbours than her.

Levin is a genius when it comes to giving us small, well-hidden hints here and there which you may not discover until you have finished the book. However, he sometimes has a habit of explaining a little bit too much and it all gets a little bit banal. Like when Rosemary reads the book about witches that she got from her good friend Hutch and she thinks for herself: “Was this the book’s meaning; that they were witches?” Another example of this is when she has passed out when she and Guy are about to make a baby and she dreams that she gets raped by some kind of monster. “This is not a dream,” Rosemary says to herself. A little bit obvious.

However, this best-selling book shows how strong the love of a mother for her child is, even though it appears not to be a normal baby. It really gets under your skin and makes you wonder if your closest friends and family are really what they seem…

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