Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Son of Rosemary

I’ve been going through a horror binge faze, one that probably started about 15 years ago.  But in the past few months, even more so. I sat in theaters on the edge of my seat for Annabelle: Creation and It. I had movie nights at home hiding under a blanket with Ouija: Origin of Evil and Lights Out. At a summer pool party, a friend noted that I had mentioned horror stories at least three different times in the course of an hour. 

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So, when I was shopping around The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles, I spent the most time in the horror section. The Last Bookstore is a noted literary treasure in LA. It has a mix of new and used books, all together spine-by-spine. The first thing I look for in any large independent book store?

IRA. FREAKING. LEVIN.

I bought three Ira Levin books, including the sequel to my all time favorite Rosemary’s Baby — Son of Rosemary. (Side note: This Perfect Day is now the only novel I’m missing in my Levin collection. Christmas is coming…)

In One Sentence: Rosemary wakes up in 1999, after an almost 30 year coma, to realize her son of Satan has become a more powerful and richer Jesus figure.

Favorite Line: ““Andy,” she asked him, holding on to one of his gilt buttons, “have you been totally honest with me?”

His hazel eyes—which were nice, now that she was getting used to them—gazed earnestly, unswervingly into hers. “I swear I have, Mom,” he said. “I know I lied when I was little. And I do now—plenty. But never again to you, Mom. Never. I owe you too much, I love you too much. Believe me.” …

They pecked, and she watched him go out with the cooler on his shoulder. She closed the door, frowning.” – Ch. 4

Review*: I actually knew this was going to be bad. It’s Ira Levin’s last novel, written late in his life, an apparent cash grab, and possible love letter to Mia Farrow? Plus, the Goodreads reviews speak for themselves. It still has his signature sparseness, focusing on the external to communicate the internal. My favorite line is actually “She closed the door, frowning.” because it’s simple yet shows a building tension right from the start of Rosemary and her son Andy’s new relationship. I’ll probably steal that trick for my own writing. But outside of that, the novel is mehhh. The entire plot is driven around whether or not people will LIGHT CANDLES. (Oh, and incest, lots of incest because I think in the editing process someone realized lighting candles was not enough so someone else pitched incense and Ira Levin heard incest). I’m still glad I read it, in that way Sandra Bullock fans bought tickets to Speed 2. However, o one else needs to read it. Watch Damien: Omen II instead.

The Book Would Have Ended a Lot Sooner If: Rosemary had died in the coma.

Something That Will Actually Give You Nightmares:

The short film “Lights Out” from David F. Sandberg that inspired the 2016 feature film.

*Note: Ira Levin is still one of my favorite authors. I encourage everyone to read Ira Levin. 

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Garden of Shadows

GardenofShadows

I was never really into Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, or any series associated with the modern revival of smut fiction. But, dangit, I do enjoy some V.C. Andrews. Even though the characters are melodramatic and the plot nonsensical, I’m turning the page.  What does that say about story? Whether you’re reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to a pitch — the most important response you can feel as an audience member is to lean forward, ears perked, wondering what happens next. 

I found V.C. Andrews’s Garden of Shadows in a discount library bin somewhere in Orange County. I used spare change from the bottom of my purse. I had already read three of the Dollanger series (first book being the infamous Flowers in the Attic) and knew with this novel there would be at least some guarantee of that infectious can’t-put-it-down-even-though-I’m-ashamed-to-be-seen-reading-it feeling

In One Sentence: A gloomy family in a gloomy mansion foreshadow the future incestuous genetic dispositions to the Foxworth ancestry. 

Favorite Line: “Chapter 15: The Blackest of Days. — ‘Mama, I’ve become a woman!'” -p.207

Review: This book is addicting, up until it becomes very clear the downfall of all prequels. I already know what is going to happen. There may also be some consequences to the fact that part of this book is actually ghostwritten by Andrew Neiderman after V.C. Andrews’s death. The novel focuses on the evil grandmother from Flowers in the Attic‘s perspective as she tries to raise a family despite her evil, cheating, lying, scumbag husband. The biggest frustration was rooting for a narrator who in the end you can’t root for! There were so many ridiculous turns that were even a bit out there for an Andrews series (incest, I can handle. But avalanches?!) I wanted the narrator, Olivia, to rise up and realize her own power over her husband but alas. The prequel serves to explain the progression of Olivia into the villain she is in the first book but I wanted her to fight against her own fate more. It could have been more tragic, more powerful, maybe less like a V.C. Andrews book… Ugh. I did this to myself.

The Book Would Have Ended a Lot Sooner If: people didn’t constantly WANT to be miserable. 

V.C. Andrews, What We Can Learn:

It took seven years of writing–some nine novels and nearly twenty short stories–before [V.C. Andrews’s] first sale. “I wasn’t persistent about sending my manuscripts out. If they were rejected once, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a complete failure,’ and I would put them away and begin a new one. Momentarily, I would think that I wasn’t going to write anymore, but then I would go right back to the typewriter and do it again.

“I just kept right on going. Every time I heard from an editor–and I did hear from them, not just receive form rejections–they would say, ‘If you get gutsy, you’ll be sold. You’re not gutsy enough.’ And I really didn’t know what they meant, to get on the gut level, so I began to think about it. I thought, ‘Well, I guess I’m writing around all of the difficult things that my mother would disapprove of.’ So once I brushed her off my shoulder and got gutsy enough, I sold. I decided that I would have to be embarrassed and write these things. That’s how simple it was. Now I don’t feel embarrassed at all.”

The reason for her success, Andrews says, is simple: “I think I tell a whopping good story. And I don’t drift away from it a great deal into descriptive material. I wanted my new book to be published in hardcover, and my editor said that if I wrote in a more boring style, I would go into hardcover. When I read, if a book doesn’t hold my interest about what’s going to happen next, I put it down and don’t finish it. So I’m not going to let anybody put one of my books down and not finish it. My stuff is a very fast read.

Read the whole article: Face of Fear, 1985

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