cover image Son of Rosemary: 0the Sequel to Rosemary's Baby

Son of Rosemary: 0the Sequel to Rosemary's Baby

Ira Levin. Dutton Books, $22.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-525-94374-7

Thirty years ago, Levin launched the modern horror genre with Rosemary's Baby. He doesn't quite sink it with this watery sequel. On Nov. 9, 1999, Rosemary Reilly wakes up from a coma of 27 years to see a nurse sporting an ""I c Andy"" button. In fact, nearly everyone on Earth wears the same button, for Andy--the son born of Rosemary's rape by Satan in Rosemary's Baby--is now a spiritual teacher who has ""inspired and united the whole world,"" as the nurse tells Rosemary. Reunited with Andy, who, while aware of his secret parentage, claims to be good, Rosemary is catapulted to celebrity as ""Andy's Mom."" Together, mother and son, along with Andy's powerful organization, work toward an unparalleled event planned for the turn of the millennium: the simultaneous lighting by everyone on the planet of specially designed candles. But as the great moment nears, doubts gnaw at Rosemary: Do Andy's incestuous passes at her mean that he's a devil at heart? Who murdered a spy in Andy's organization? And what about those candles? Levin is an old pro who knows how to seed his story with enough mini-mysteries (including several word puzzles integral to the plot) to keep readers pushing pages. But after the nifty setup, the story drifts rather than lopes, with little suspense. There's little orginality here either. Several plot turns echo those in the first novel, and the ending resorts to the most hackneyed of writing tricks. The entire novel reads like an afterthought; with only minor charms, it is by far the palest work yet from the horror master who set the standard with Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections. (Sept.)