From the moment Rosemary and her husband Guy decided to move into their new home in Branford, we can predict that the two will slowly drift apart. They were eager to start their lives as a married couple in their new home, an apartment house owned by the neighbouring church, so much so that they ignored warnings that the place was cursed. They were in for a rude awakening, at least one of them was. Apparently, there is such a thing as an overly friendly neighbour…

What is the book Rosemary’s Baby about?

rosemary baby book cover
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin Book Cover

From the moment the couple move in, we can tell they are hardly on the same wavelength. Guy reveals his obsession with fame and furthering his career as an actor whereas Rosemary expresses her desires to start a family. Their enthusiasm in regards to interactions with the neighbours also illustrates how they are divided. The plot takes shape with the casual introduction of eerie behaviours on the neighbours’ part. The Castevets are excessively present neighbours, constantly imposing themselves on the young couple, sucking them unknowingly into their cultish world of rituals, witchcraft and horror.

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She opened her eyes and looked into the yellow-furnaced eyes, smelled sulphur and tannis root, felt wet breath on her mouth, heard lust grunts and the breathing of onlookers. This is no dream, she thought. This is real, this is happening.

Rosemary’s nightmares are yet another warning that she chooses to ignore, in addition to the gut wrenching feeling that something is off. She eventually starts asking questions, but it is a little late since she is already too mixed up into her neighbours’ plans. Every time she questions her unusual pregnancy or strange gifts from the Castevets such as the weird tannis root necklace, she is simply teased or treated like a naive child.

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Eerie Review

rosemary baby book open
Rosemary’s Baby Open Book

The novel is quite slow to unfold and is unfortunately mainly focused on witchcraft and rituals, which I was not expecting. There is hardly any suspense and the religious and cultish elements in the novel do not work for me. My spookiness expectation of the book was high due to great reviews from both friends and the media for the film version, which is usually disappointing compared to the book it is based on. I was discouraged when I realized the book was not going to deliver on the chills I was hoping for, despite me being an easy target.

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The baby kicked and twisted in her. She was sweating. Quickly, please, Dr.Hill. Call me. Rescue me. All of them. All of them. They were all in it together… All of them witches. All of them witches. Using her to produce a baby for them, so that they could take it and-

The greatest success of the story was its eeriness and the plot twist in the end. Despite the lack of spookiness, the novel’s third part was quite riveting as Rosemary ties clues together. Yet the ending felt abrupt, perhaps if Rosemary caught on earlier, the book would have been more captivating as a whole.

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Final thoughts

Rosemary’s baby definitely makes you realize you should always trust your instincts and question strange behaviours more thoroughly. You also should never trust your neighbours for you may end up in a web of cults and rituals, without even knowing how you ended up there in the first place…

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6.5
Score

Pros

  • Twist to uncover
  • Surprising Plot/Idea

Cons

  • Not frights deliver
  • Slow starter
  • Too much religion & witchcraft
Setting
5/10
Plot Twist
7/10
Character Development
6.5/10
Killer Reveal
5.5/10
Creepiness
8/10

Final Verdict

A novel whose premise would only be considered spooky to a certain niche of readers, but could be much scarier through another medium, such as film.