William March’s The Bad Seed
A horror movie that my Mom recommended to me when I was a teenager was The Bad Seed. She recalled how scary it was when it came out, which would have been probably scarier since she was just a little girl herself when it did. Recently, I came across the novel that the movie was based on. When I read on its back cover that the book was an instant bestseller and National Book Award finalist, I knew that I had to give it a try.
Granted, I haven’t seen the movie in over 20 years myself, but I liked the book better. I remember that the movie wasn’t as suspenseful as I had hoped, especially since I was used to watching Hitchcock films at the time. In contrast, the novel was both suspenseful and frightening. The slow build of the main character’s discovery of her daughter’s crimes followed by the deeper discovery of her own identity was gripping. The author, William March, created a cast of interesting and believable characters, making the book a delight to read.
It wasn’t a perfect narrative—but being a horror genre novel, I could forgive its clumsiness, and it was an overall memorable read, which is something I like when I find one.
March, William. The Bad Seed. W.E. Campbell LLC, 1954; Vintage Books Edition, 2015.
LeRoy, Mervin. The Bad Seed, Warner Bros., 1956.