Rosemary’s Baby (by Ira Levin) is one of my favorite books, and it’s part of what inspired The Awakening Series.
It’s the kind of quiet horror that I love. The story is disturbing because of gradually building suspense and looming evil rather than blood and guts.
Other things I love about Rosemary’s Baby and how they fit with The Awakening Series (warning if you’ve never read or seen Rosemary’s Baby, there are SPOILERS below):
An Unusual Pregnancy
Tara (my protagonist in The Awakening) and Rosemary are in slightly different situations. Rosemary wanted to become pregnant, and Tara didn’t.
But they are alike, too. Rosemary wanted a baby, but not to have her pregnancy forced on her.
Tara wanted to delay having children until she finished medical school. She chose to abstain from sex, but at the beginning of the book finds herself pregnant anyway.
The two women also are similar in they’re both willing to entertain what appear to be impossible answers to the situation they find themselves in. They follow where logic leads rather than assuming they lost their minds, though others around them attempt to convince them that’s what’s happening.
Woman As Hero
Despite that on first glance Rosemary appears to be the standard “woman in peril” staple of many horror and suspense novels, she doesn’t remain a victim. Ultimately, I see her as “women as hero.” While she isn’t able to defeat the evil people around her, she is able to take control of the situation.
Rosemary figures out what happened to her friend Hutch, how her husband became so successful, and the real goals of her seemingly benign elderly neighbors. I used her as a sort of model for Tara.
Both Tara and Rosemary, once they discover their situations, do everything they can to figure out what’s happening and how to deal with it. They don’t wait for others to rescue them.
Tara trusts those around her, just as Rosemary trusted her husband and neighbors, but she reexamines everything and everyone to figure out how to survive.
Finding Her Own Way
Rosemary also is unconventional. We expect her either to be defeated or choose to end her own life and her child’s. Instead, she’s determined to find another way.
Tara, too, is unwilling to accept the choices others offer to her.
Everyone has an opinion about her pregnancy and its origin, but Tara is determined to figure out for herself what it means. Even if she likes and trusts someone (such as her mentor Nanor, founder of a woman’s community whose daughter also had a virgin pregnancy), she doesn’t accept as gospel what that person says or do what that person tells her to do.
Means and Ends
I also like Rosemary’s Baby because it features antagonists who on the surface appear ordinary and kind but whose beliefs justify, in their own minds, doing terrible things.
While the antagonists in Rosemary’s Baby hold beliefs that are generally considered to be evil, Levin makes clear that they have a deep and strong faith that they believe justifies their actions.
On the surface, they do what look like good deeds. They help a young woman hooked on drugs become sober and take her into their home, they befriend Rosemary and try to help her through her pregnancy, and they help Rosemary’s husband’s career.
All these things, though, are done to try to achieve a nefarious purpose.
On the other hand, Rosemary’s choice in the end is one that is motivated by a clear good—love for her child—yet it’s unclear whether it’s the morally correct choice given what’s at stake.
In The Awakening Series, I chose antagonists who do questionable (and sometimes criminal) things because they see it as necessary to protect the world. While Tara herself is clearly not evil, what her pregnancy means and how it happened is unknown to her, as is whether those who oppose her might, on some level, be doing the right thing.
In the end, the questions over right and wrong and the difficulties in choosing the best path when no options are clearly good is a big part of what I loved about Rosemary’s Baby and what inspired The Awakening and the later books in the series.
Haven't tried The Awakening Series yet? If you're reading this the week of February 6, 2018, it's a good time to check it out, as the e-book editions of Book 1 are free.