Son of Rosemary

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First edition (publ. Dutton)

Son of Rosemary is a 1997 horror novel by Ira Levin, and is the sequel to Rosemary's Baby.


The novel begins in November 1999 (a future year at the time of writing) with Rosemary Woodhouse waking up in a long term care facility after the last member of the coven from the first novel is killed in a car accident. She learns that she has been in a coma since 1973, the result of a spell cast on her by the coven when they discovered that she planned to remove her son Andy from their influence. Rosemary immediately becomes a national sensation after waking up from such a long coma. In her absence, Andy was raised by Minnie and Roman Castevet, the leaders of the coven.

Andy is now 33, the same age as Jesus is said to have been when he died—he also has twelve assistants and a girlfriend called Judith S. Kharyat who threatens to reveal his parentage and is spectacularly murdered with 7 silver knives and surrounded with 23 silver items to represent the 30 pieces of silver. He is the leader of a charitable foundation with a worldwide influence. Rosemary immediately suspects that Andy's foundation has a demonic purpose, but he reassures her that he has fought his evil side, and is trying to do good work. Supporters wear pins that say "I (heart) Andy"—in fact, this is the first thing Rosemary sees when she wakes—and after Rosemary's story becomes known, they begin wearing "I (heart) Rosemary" pins as well. Andy consorts with Republican Party members and members of the Religious Right. Throughout the book, various characters playfully mention the anagram "roast mules", often out of context or à propos of nothing.

The foundation has distributed candles worldwide with the intention that they be lit at midnight on New Year's Eve to help usher in the year 2000. Rosemary gradually comes to suspect that all is not right with the candles, but her concerns fall on deaf ears. In the climax of the book, the candles release a deadly virus which causes people to disintegrate into dust particles. Andy's real father returns for a visit, and takes Rosemary with him to Hell.

After being taken to Hell, Rosemary wakes up in bed with her husband Guy and finds that it is 1965 again. The events of the entire first book and nearly all of the sequel are revealed to have been a vivid dream of Rosemary's. Even the Bramford, the apartment building where Guy and Rosemary lived in the first book, was revealed to be a creation of Rosemary's mind after reading Bram Stoker's book, Dracula. Rosemary then receives a call from her friend Edward Hutchins (who in the first book was killed to prevent his revealing the coven's existence). He offers her and Guy a rent-free apartment in the Dakota Apartments (the model for the Bramford) for a year. Hutch then makes a comment about "roast mules", and about the candle lighting, causing Rosemary to sense danger. Guy questions why she would want to turn down a chance to live at the Dakota, but Rosemary takes Hutch's remarks seriously as a warning.

The anagram[edit]

The book contains the anagram puzzle "roast mules." Levin never gives the answer, simply saying that it is a word that most five-year-old children would recognize. The solution is possibly "somersault," although it can also spell "soulmaster" and, perhaps most intriguingly given the book's ending, "almost sure."

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