I accidentally read these three books by Ira Levin back to back. The week somehow became themed, the theme being that I was very easily startled and rather freaked out all week long. The thing is, I am not a big reader of scary books; it just never was something I craved to read. (Except for a summer when I was around 10 and I binged on the Goosebumps books by R. L. Stine.) However, there was something irresistible about these books.
I started with The Stepford Wives and, because I had seen the film years ago I pretty much knew what was going to happen. That fact didn’t make it any less enjoyable though. It’s a brilliant story and, at the time it was written, with the feminist movement being so strong, I believe that it was extremely relevant and thought-provoking. My favourite thing about it was that nothing was very obvious; every little clue was so subtle, every thing was just on the line between “this is completely normal” and “something creepy is going on here”. Because it was written in the sixties, there are a lot of things relating to women and the attitudes towards women at the time that I found infuriating. The fact that it was a given that woman would quit her job as soon as she got married, that housekeeping was a task only for women, that women were easily upset and prone to getting “hysterical”… Of course, this is not a negative point about the book, it merely reflected what was the reality at the time. All in all, it was a great read, a bit creepy but relatively light.
Then, I promptly moved on to Rosemary’s Baby. I expected this one to be more scary but I only had a fuzzy idea of what it was about. It starts being mildly dark and mysterious but then, all of a sudden it escalates to, basically, really really scary. I think I had goosebumps throughout the second half of the book. Seriously, it was so creepy and delicious! It didn’t matter that it’s written in a way that the reader can figure things out before Rosemary does, I was still scared. This actually added to the thrill; I was dying for Rosemary to get a clue of what was going on. So basically I wanted to yell at the book but also put it in the freezer and hide under the covers because it was scary. The ending was not what I expected, but I wasn’t disappointed at all.
After that, I was hooked on Ira Levin’s freaky stories so I picked up A Kiss Before Dying. (It helps that I had recently bought all three at the £2 bookshop so there was no waiting time between books.) Since this is not as famous as the other two, I had lower expectations for it. I was blown away by this one! It is just a really really good story. It kept my heartbeat up throughout, I didn’t want to put it down and, for the most part, it had me rooting for a murderer. It’s not sci-fi and it has nothing to do with the occult but it’s not any less thrilling and brilliant than the other stories.
So, my accidental Ira Levin Thriller week was a roaring success. It’s very rare for me to read books so quickly but all three of them were so completely engrossing I simply had to keep on reading. I really enjoy stepping outside of my comfort zone and reading books from genres that I don’t normally choose, like thrillers in this case. Do you read scary books? Have you read any of these? If not, I highly recommend them! Now, to find the movie versions…