I'm a fan of almost everything paranormal, so I'll be interested to see the new remake of Rosemary's Baby on Sunday night. I never saw the original movie, but I did read the book as well as the sequel, and the promo for the show brought me back to my initial reactions to the first and second Ira Levin novels about the Woodhouse family. Warning - spoilers from the books ahead!
Somehow, the original Rosemary's Baby never made it onto my radar, despite my lifelong reading addiction. I have always loved books dealing with the supernatural (especially ghost stories), and spooky material is fine by me (one of my all-time favorite movies is The Exorcist). Perhaps I never discovered it because it was published before I was born.
But a sequel, Son of Rosemary, came out in 1997. I promptly purchased it, along with the original. The first book, Rosemary's Baby, was an absolute page-turner for me. When it was published in 1967, it sold over 4 million copies to become the top bestselling horror movie of the 1960s. Rosemary's Baby is about a couple, Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, who move into a New York City apartment building called the Bramford, despite dire warnings that suggest the Bramford has a history involving witchcraft and murder.
Their new neighbors, Minnie and Roman Castevet, appear overly welcoming, and Guy begins spending a lot of time in their apartment. In no small coincidence, Guy's main rival at work suddenly meets with tragedy, and Guy advances to a lead role in a play.
Eventually, Rosemary comes to believe Minnie and Roman are the leaders of a Satanic Cult intent on stealing the baby growing inside her. No one will listen to her wild theories, though--including her husband. In the end, Rosemary discovers Guy is not even the father of her baby--she is carrying the Antichrist, implanted and nurtured by the acts of the coven.
I couldn't put this book down, but the sequel, Son of Rosemary, disappointed me--especially the ending. In this novel, Rosemary awakens after spending 26 years in a coma, brought on by the coven when they discovered she planned to remove her baby, Andy, from their influence. In her absence, Andy was raised by Minnie and Roman. He's now 33, which happens to correlate to the age Jesus was said to be when he died. In other biblical connections, Andy has 12 assistants, similar to the disciples, and a girlfriend (making the number of close supporters 13 - see this post for more info on the significance).
Andy runs a foundation, which appears to have altruistic goals but is in fact a front for Andy's plan to end the world. The part that really got to me was the very end, when Rosemary "wakes up" back in 1965 to discover the entire saga, including the whole first novel, was only a dream. I truly hate endings like that, and I was furious that Levin had essentially negated the original book.
However, there are a few hints that Rosemary's dream could be a warning vision of her future. It is set up in such a way that perhaps we the readers can see she will eventually find herself living out the events of her nightmare.
But then, does the cycle repeat? There is one anagram that is constantly repeated in Son of Rosemary: "Roast Mules". Levin has never revealed what the answer to the puzzle is, but he has stated it is a word most 5-year-old children would know. Guesses include "somersault", "soul master", or "almost sure"...a possible allusion to the ending.
The original movie starred Mia Farrow, and Levin dedicated the novel Son of Rosemary to the actress. Since I never saw that one, I think I'll try the NBC series just to see what it's like. And if it conflicts with Game of Thrones, well, thank goodness for DVRs, because I need my GoT fix on Sunday nights!
If you enjoy paranormal reads mixed with romance, try SILVER LAKE or GULL HARBOR...both are ghost stories combined with steamy romance, and I promise the ending is not "it was all a dream"!