The Bad Seed

Title: The Bad Seed
Author: William March
Pages: 256
Publisher: Rinehart & Company (1954)
Rating: 5 stars

Rhoda Penmark is an odd child. She rarely shows affection and gives great attention to detail. Her playmates dislike her, but adults love her because she is a no-nonsense, precocious little girl.

No one knows that Rhoda is a bad seed. She has no capacity for compassion or affection; she is hard, selfish, and obsessed with material possessions. When Rhoda speaks she sounds detached and eerie, but she’s quite an actress. Rhoda shows the typical signs of psychopathy: lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, egocentricity, and deceptiveness.

The Bad Seed is told from Christine’s, Rhoda’s mother, perspective. Her husband, Kenneth, is away for work and Christine is left to manage their strange, secretive child on her own.

This proves to be too great of a challenge for Christine when she begins to suspect Rhoda of being involved in a murder. Her suspicions mount when she catches Rhoda in a lie and does a little investigating of her own.

As her investigation reveals more about Rhoda’s capabilities and about Christine’s own horrific past, Christine is conflicted with guilt, love for her child, and a desire to set things right. The whole book you’re like, when is this creepy kid going to kill her mom?!! I don’t want to spoil it but that doesn’t happen. The ending is so insane, it’s perfect.

The Bad Seed is written concisely with simple language, which highlights the horror of the plot. Christine is a complex character and felt like I could understand her rationality even though it ultimately is a little crazy. I mean, what do you do when your only child may have killed someone and you might be to blame?

This novel is incredibly suspenseful, William March really knows how to get you going. There were times that I had to put the book down for a second because it was just too much: too creepy, too messed up. But ultimately I loved this book! And I want to watch the movie!!

About Natalie Ramm

I read a lot, y'all.
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7 Responses to The Bad Seed

  1. Sarah Dunaway says:

    This might be silly, but I first heard about this book on an episode of Pretty Little Liars when they were rehearsing for the school play, which was The Bad Seed based on the book. After reading your review, it is definitely going on my Book List.


  2. Natalie Ramm says:

    Sarah, I think you would really like this! I’ve been trying to get Afton to read it too!


  3. Cassandra says:

    A story where you wonder whether the narrator will be killed by her own child? I have to add this to my reading list!


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