Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira levin

Title: Rosemary’s Baby
Author: Ira Levin

ISBN # 0965723178

Publisher: The Stephen King Horror Library

First Published: 1967

245 pages

Format: Hardback

Rating: 8/10

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse were delighted at the chance to move into Bramford, one of
Manhattan's oldest and most celebrated apartment houses. Their friend Hutch urged them not to; he knew of too many shadows in Bramford's past - unsavoury tenants like Adrian Marcato, who had practised witchcraft, and the monstrous Trench sisters. But Rosemary and Guy were clear-thinking and not at al superstitious. They dismissed Hutch's warnings and moved in.

At first they were completely happy. Rosemary hung curtains and planned a nursery for the baby she hoped to have some day. Guy pursued his career as a stage and television actor. They met their neighbours, who were friendly and unintrusive. But then, one day when Rosemary was down in the basement laundry room, a girl her own age came in...

Quietly and with a compelling matter-of-factness, Ira Levin tells a story of mounting terror and icy climactic shock in a book that manages to be wildly entertaining as well.

It's a quiet, understated horror, this one. No scenes of blood and gore, no terrifying creatures ripping terrified teens limb from limb - it's all implied, internal terror and rising paranoia culminating in panic and psychological terror as Rosemary slowly pieces together a puzzle to which she does not realise she is the key.

Levin is truly a master of the genre and the introduction by Stephen King speaks volumes of his own respect and awe at the talents of a fellow writer. I'm also pleased that this is a case where a fantastic film (which I've seen and loved many times) has been utterly faithful, right down to the descriptions of clothes and the layout of the apartments. The truth is that if any single aspect had been changed, it would all have fallen apart.

It's so carefully constructed, with the tension building steadily, that I was kept literally on the edge of my seat, despite the fact that I was already familiar with the entire plot. It was definitely worth reading the book!


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