The Bad Seed – Friday Fiction

the bad seed cover

The Bad Seed

Another Swedish Death Cleaning find

I have been doing well with this, although since I returned to work full time, I haven’t had as much time to keep going. However, I pulled out a box of stuff that my mother had given me and this book was in there. It is falling apart. Some of the pages crumbled as I opened the book. Definite weeder.

If you don’t know anything about this book, I encourage to check out a “nice” copy from your library. This book is of a genre I will call creepy kids. Little, perfect Rhoda (said evil kid) is the picture of innocence and cooperation. Too bad she is a killer. Evil kids have always been the scariest type of horror lit, in my opinion. I put it in the category with Rosemary’s Baby (Levin), Wicked Angel (Caldwell), or the Exorcist (Blatty). (I had to sleep with one eye open after reading Rosemary’s Baby when I was about 15. <shivers>)

Sleep well tonight!


back cover interior text


  1. One of my family’s favorite movies from my childhood in the 1960s…and we were not the Addams Family, we all just loved how over-the-top it was and how creepy this kid was! My mom had seen this on Broadway, with the girl who played the Bad Seed in the stage role, too. Yep, this one’s a weeder due to its falling apart…but what a terrifically good scary story it is 🙂

    1. ‘The Bad Seed’ was adapted for the stage by Maxwell Anderson. It was a straight drama and had a run of 330 some performances.

      Patty McCormack played Rhoda on Broadway as she did in the first screen version. The cover illustration looks very much like her.

      Creepy kids are a great plot driver. Think of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ or Shirley Jones’s ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’. Books like these are a great way to get the chills gong on a hot summer night.

      ‘The Bad Seed’ was never a Broadway musical but, after ‘Sweeney Todd’, who knows?

  2. I only know about this book because of the movie the made in the 50’s where she just gets struck by lightening and dies because apparently the Hayes Code wouldn’t allow someone to literally get away with murder.
    And yet the creepiness of her relationship with her daddy was perfectly acceptable. 🙂

  3. I love the cover on this edition. If it were in better shape, I would buy this in a book sale just for the creepy illustration!

  4. Creepy kids are definitely creepier than most monsters. Because sometimes they’re REAL.

    that cover is very 1950’s.

  5. This books has actually been made into several great movies. The one from the 1960s is notoriously creepy. The remake in the 1980s is harder to find.

  6. Correction.:

    ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ was written by Shirley Jackson, not Shirley Jones.

    Mea Culpa.

    1. If it *was* Shirley Jones, there’s your musical!

      “The Partridges Have Always Lived in the Castle”.

    2. I was hoping you were wrong, which sounds nasty. Someone who can write “The Lottery” can probably write creepy af evil minors fiction too.

  7. “Penmark”? Am I the only one thinking the author couldn’t think of a last name, so he made one up from the first thing he saw?

  8. Check the semi-sequels by Max Allan Collins: “Mommy” and “Mommy’s Day”. The direct-to-video movies (also by Collins) starred the same Patty McCormick all grown up.

  9. This is a *great* novel and was a bestseller of its day, even nominated for the National Book Award. But the author died the same year it came out and the movie/play overshadowed the book. Highly recommended reading, as it was an early foray into the mind of a pure sociopath.

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