The Remaking

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Member Reviews

The remaking is an interesting novel which is told over a span of a hundred years at around 20 year intervals.  We have the legend, the film, the remake and the podcast – with each written in different styles.  Does this work within the confines of the novel, yes and no but I’ll get to that a bit later.  

The opening of the novel we have the legend of the little ghost witch was excellently done.  The origin story is frightful and horrible which is steeped in legend.  Chapman develops this mythos excellently.  From there we move to a cheap horror film being made by a writer and director obsessed with the legend.  We are put into the hands of the young actress who will be picked to play the part of the ghost witch where things go a bit askew.  We then jump again to a remake where things are not what they seem until the final part takes us down a different route with an investigative reporter looking into the mystery of both films and the legend.  

The plot is very strong and interesting and I was well invested in the story from the beginning.  Chapman lovingly creates horror and great emotional depth into the legend of the ghost witch.  He also is able to delve into the horror of the human condition and he really knows how to capture the audience attention.  

The next part of the book, the original film about the legend works very well and he captures a very young actress, overbearing stage mother and the problematic low budget production that starts out fun but turns to terror.  Chapman ends this on a question mark and at first you are thinking what the hell until the next part.  This is told from the point of view of the actress going from conventions to acting in the big budget remake of a film that has cult status.  For the record, I sometimes have difficulty with first person narrative as it can sometimes ramble.  In this case, there is some rambling but upon reflection, I do think this is down to the character’s state of mind.  

The last part of the book which brings everything full circle is probably what makes this book a bit clever which is podcast section.  We have a podcaster ready to debunk the legend and the mystery behind both films.  Having a sceptic tone to the final part really lifts the novel and helps surpass what came before.  It also gives a different perspective on the situation and we also get to catch up on the characters from before and what happened to them.  This was excellently done.  

The characters are all well drawn.  Their likability changes with the time span but fit within their universe.  Very well crafted and insightful with enough pathos and emotions to make them stand out.

I currently run host a podcast and we have marked this book a must read for our audiences and will highlight it in our newsletter of over 200,000 subscribers because I really have faith in this book.  The different styles set it apart from other novels, Chapman has really out done himself with the different parts of the book to make a fully realised legend.  There is a believability to the proceedings.   This is not a fast paced novel with chase sequences and horrific gory encounters from a Hollywood standpoint.

Chapman delivers a low key, rich in atmosphere and realism that fits.  His writing has a dreamlike quality that is horrific as well as extremely sad.  The ghosts are always out of the corner of the eye and this is what makes this novel work.  I highly recommend this fascinating novel that haunts the reader long after the final words leave a stain on your memory and vision.
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I have been in such a mood for a good horror story - maybe it’s the time of year, but I feel like it’s been a minute since I read a good, old-fashioned horror story. Clay McLeod Chapman’s The Remaking is that horror story.

The plot: Ella Louise lived in the woods of Pilot’s Creek, Virginia, back in the 1930s. She and her 9-year-old daughter, Jessica, are outcasts; the townsfolk call them witches, but always manage to find a way to ask Ella Louise for help with various ailments. When one of her customers experiences a horrific loss, a handful of the men in town pull Ella Louise and Jessica out of their home one night and burn them alive. They’re buried in the middle of the forest, and fade into urban legend until the early 1970s, when a filmmaker decides he needs to tell Jessica’s story. Casting a 9-year-old Amber, an actress with an awful stage mother, sets off a chain of events that will form the rest of Amber’s life. From the unexplainable occurrence on set that forever shot the film into cult status, to the inevitable ‘90s remake, Amber and Jessica will always be considered one and the same.

A brilliant look at fandom culture mixed with a good, old-fashioned ghost story, The Remaking is damned near unputdownable. Clay McLeod Chapman creates an ultra-creepy tale that old school cult film fans will love. It’s horror without the gore, and all the creepy, and the creepy isn’t only coming from the ghosts and witches. It’s coming from the fandom culture that won’t let a haunted woman forget the one movie she made and the one role she can’t escape. Modern pop culture elements are all over this story: investigative journalism podcasts, fan and con culture, and remake fever all have their moments here, but at the story’s heart is little Jessica’s curse: you’ll never forget her once you read it, either.
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Very atmospheric, great dialogue, and sure to be a delight for horror readers. Loved the fast paced, yet descriptive, passages and you could really feel like you were there.
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Thoroughly enjoyed this spooky tale reminiscent of the Blair Witch phenomenon. Ella Louise and Jessica are sympathetic characters destroyed by the fear and arrogance of an ignorant population. Amber is well written and her future PTSD is relate-able. Really good read!
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The premise to this book sounded fantastic, however I had some difficulty getting into the the book. The writing was good, the premise was intriguing, the characters were well developed but at the same time it just dragged at times and seemed a little disjointed making it a little confusing. However, I was able to finish the book and it was definitely decent, maybe just not for me. Thank you to Netgalley and Quirk Books for an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.
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The Remaking is a dark and twisted tale of a former child star grappling with her past,  When Amber is hired for a 70's horror movie based on a true story of the murder of a mother and daughter suspected of witchcraft, the mysterious events of that plagued the film's shooting change Amber's life forever.  Now a troubled adult with a drug addiction, she is asked to star in the remake of the movie directed by a man who is obsessed with the story of original film's actors.  
I found Amber to be a very unlikable character who made one horrible decision after another.  The story felt a bit uneven but overall was an interesting take on how to retell the same story in different ways.
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I am a fan of horror movies, whether it be a classic horror flick or a deep meaning thriller. This however did not really interest me. I don't know what it was but I just couldn't get into this book. It could have been a quick and easy read had I been more interested in the story, but I just didn't enjoy it. 
The movie follows the story of a mother and daughter that were burned to death as the townspeople believed they were witches. A producer and director decide to make the story into a horror movie, inserting the normal sex scenes, etc. They try to make two different movies, with tragedy happening in both cases. It all revolves one of the actresses in the movie, Amber. She then has to finally finish the "story" so she can stop being haunted. 
Like I said I just wasn't into this story at all. The writing seemed to drag on, and it felt like the book could have been shortened if they got to the point.
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The Remaking begins with a campfire story - the type of story you'll have heard before: a small town tragedy that has developed over the years into an urban legend, a ghost story. Every single town in the world has one - my own town has one, not altogether dissimilar to the one depicted in the novel - witches, innocent women, persecuted due to ignorance, fear and mania.

After this introduction we are thrust into the 1970s and the pulp horror of the time. The two perspectives of this time setting, while linked, couldn't be more different. McLeod introduces us to a director determined to tell the story of the witches from his hometown - just like in the campfire story he remembered from his youth, and Amber Pendleton - the young girl chosen to play Jessica in the movie. 

It's Amber's story that's easiest to sympathise with - a show pony for her single, determined to latch onto fame mother, Amber doesn't particularly want to play the part. She doesn't want to sit in auditions and be compared to dozens of other girls that all look alike. She wants a regular childhood and a mother who lets her have that. Instead, she is cast in the part of Jessica thus changing the course of her life forever. 

Amber's story goes a long way in showing the treatment of how women have been historically treated within the horror genre - particularly by a certain subset of fans of the genre. McLeod's depiction of the now washed-up Amber in her early 30s is a particularly harrowing section of the book where toxic fandom and the culture of The Final Girl is thrust into the spotlight. Like many parts of the book, the Amber of the 1990s reiteration of the tale holds a black mirror up to the obsessions found within the horror fandom.

Which brings us to the third telling of the story when the original 1970s film is set to be remade for a then-modern audience. The story is subverted one more time, moulded into something new that remains all about the director's vision for his piece, his fanaticism for the original. Once again the source material is forgotten, the real tragic figures - Jessica and her mother - remain an afterthought, nothing more than creepy talismans. When tragedy strikes there's such an inevitability of it - these people didn't take their first warning with the events that transpired during the making of the first movie. Fame, glory, and a vision proved more important than heeding the fact that history is doomed to keep repeating itself. 

The fourth telling moves away from the movie genre and instead turns into a true crime podcast. These days there are hundreds of true crime podcasts which, however noble the intentions may be, still use real tragedy as entertainment. By then the town has become a victim of itself, now clinging onto the tragedies that have happened there to bring in tourists and capitalise on the misery that continues to reverberate there. 

I loved this book. LOVED it. I adore meta, self-aware horror that takes a long hard look at itself while also paying homage to the genre. It's rare but The Remaking's got it. It's got it in spades.
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When I read the summary of this book and that it would be told in 3 separate styles -campfire story, podcast interview and horror movie- I thought it sounded awesome but try as I might  I just couldn't get into this book and the story of the witch didn't interest me.
I didn't finish- gave up about 35% through
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I’ve been pining for this book since I read about it earlier this year.  I don’t need to tell you how obsessed I am with classic horror movies so this was just what I needed to read to get me in the Halloween spirit! I devoured it in one afternoon of reading, something I haven’t treated myself to in some time.

Chapman picks up the very thing about horror movies (and fiction!) that I adore; the feeling of inescapable horror, an evil that persists through time.  The horror that is told around campfires, that is kept alive through word of mouth. He didn’t do it by using an excessive amount of gore that more modern “horror” evokes, but instead focused on the very thing about horror that terrorizes us most.

Also, rather than hiding in the guise of a thriller, Chapman and his publisher (Quirk Books) embrace the very aspects of horror that we must celebrate.  He evokes a feeling of a young Stephen King (yes I did go there) and leaves me hoping that he continues on this path of horror fiction.  A true talent, one that we’ll all be pronouncing as a horror great as we follow him on that dark and haunting path.  Highly, highly recommended.
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A fun read with a good and campy concept. I was not the biggest fan of the writing style, but it wasn't so not-to-my-tastes that I was unable to enjoy the book. That being said, there are a number of people who I know I could recommend this book to and they would love it!
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What’s scarier than a ghost? The ghost of a witch . . . in a cemetery! The Remaking is a fast-paced, spooky, plot-driven (and driving plot) novel.

Chapman does a wonderful job with his protagonist, Amber, who is a horror-movie scream queen. The hounding fans, her anxiety, her drinking, and her Hollywood mom . . . Chapman captures it all so well.

Chapman’s descriptions of the dead witches and the cemetery are detailed and eerie. The description of Amber’s movie makeup is downright creepy, and I even got a little claustrophobic reading about the plaster casting for Amber’s face.

The plot is perfect, a combination of fast-paced horror and slow-paced chills. The ending is satisfying . . . but "satisfying" doesn't always mean "happily ever after" in a neat, little package when it comes to horror.

My only complaint about the book is that Chapman’s prose is short and choppy and remains so throughout the book. His prose makes for a quick read, but  to me it’s not as interesting as more varied prose.

Kudos to the book cover artist, awesome infinity-like snake cover.

Overall, a fast, fun, scary read!
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An epic ghost story. The Remaking begins as a campfire tale, telling the horrific story of Ella Louise and Jessica Ford. Mother and daughter were burned as witches in Pilot's Creek, VA., their remains forever separated. Ella Louise left buried in the woods, Jessica buried beneath concrete in the local graveyard with a fence of crosses surrounding her grave. 
We are soon introduced to Amber Pendleton, a young actress, who is cast to play Jessica in "Don't Tread on Jessica's Grave", a 70's B horror movie. Told through the eyes of young Amber, we learn of eerie events that take place during filming of the movie. These events turn the low budget horror movie into an instant Cult Classic. 
Decades later and Amber is getting by attending conventions and surviving on benzos and booze, her career never moving past Jessica. Offered a role to play Ella Louise in a redo of the cult classic, with a 90's horror spin, Amber must subject herself to the memories of what occurred 20 years prior and the horror of what is about to occur. 
As Amber is revisited, yet again, for an investigative podcast, we find her living in seclusion and squalor. She has remained, all these many years, in Pilot Creek, tied down by the call of Jessica. The town has withered as though a curse hangs over it. Perhaps it does. 
I found The Remaking spooky and chilling. The idea of bouncing through decades and genres was interesting. Following Amber’s perspective as decades have gone by, really gave a unique perspective. While I greatly enjoyed the book, I did feel it was a little campy, perhaps written for a younger audience. I would recommend this book. It was certainly entertaining.
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Interesting literary take on a ghost story steeped in a cinematic feel. Eloquently written, though a bit disjointed due to the shifting narrative. Utterly original and fascinating.
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Those who suffer witches

The Remaking takes readers through a cycle of witch stories: a legend, a cult horror film, and the remake of the film - which is haunted by the original ghost story. 

In pacing, it is reminiscent of Norman Partridge’s Dark Harvest, creating a horror film in the reader’s mind and making her turn pages faster and faster. But it’s real success lies in the almost feminine rhyme quality of its repetition (words repeat and echo throughout) paired with an understanding of women’s plights: being infantalized, being fetishized, being saddled with accusations of “witch” or “whore”. 

It also takes a clear-eyed look at popular culture, creates an authentically spooky atmosphere and is filled with rich details ranging from the cola-sticky floors of a theater to the cheesy cover art on 80s horror VHS tapes. A very satisfying and literary autumn read!
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After trying multiple times, I simply cannot get into the story. The premise sounded fantastic. This was actually one of my most anticipated horror books for the end of 2019, but I just cannot connect with the narrative. I have finally decided to DNF the book. I don't think it's a bad book, but it's just not for me.

I will not be reviewing this publicly because I do not review books that I DNF.
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So this was great. I have no idea what took me so long to get to it. I'm no movie buff and have certainly avoided horror films rather intentionally, so I suspect I missed some references. Still though, solid, enjoyable, and cleverly formatted.
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"These woods whisper...the woods know what the people of Pilot's Creek have done." The residents of Pilot's Creek, Virginia, a superstitious town, felt that Ella Louise Ford was "touched". As a child, she made dolls that looked like totems. (like effigies) Shunned by the populace, disowned by her parents, she raised her daughter Jessica, supporting the family of two, with Ella's Apothecary Shop nestled in the woods. There were"...miracle cures...roots and leaves and fungi of all kinds." Unfortunately, a pregnant woman died after taking Ella's suggested cure. On October 16, 1931, at four minutes past midnight,...five men went beyond the law...Tonight they were going to burn a witch." Both Ella Louise and nine year old Jessica were burned alive. Thinking that Jessica was "more powerful", she was buried in the cemetery in a steel-reinforced coffin under six feet of concrete. A metal fence of more than one hundred interlocking connected crosses was installed to prevent Jessica's ghost from searching for and reuniting with her mother who was buried somewhere deep in the woods. "Until they are reunited, her soul won't be at peace." Based upon a true witch burning, an urban legend was born. "...a legend that is told and retold without knowledge of what really happened-and why."

"The Remaking" by Clay McLeod Chapman is a ghost story divided into four chapters. The first part is a "campfire" style version of the legend of "The Witch Girl's Grave at Pilot's Creek". Subsequent retellings include the tale as a horror film, a horror film "remake", and a podcast. Amber Pendleton, a nine year old budding actress, is chosen to star as Jessica in the flick "Don't Tread on Jessica's Grave"." [Amber] was a vessel, a conduit for her character, for Jessica Ford, the Little Witch Girl...Whispers of dialogue had followed her into her dreams." Amber is "swept up in their history". She acts as the thread binding and connecting the embellished remakes of Ella Louise and Jessica's haunting story.

Although the writing was uneven at times, on the whole, this reader was impressed with the concept of four reworkings of an urban legend, one remake every twenty years. Be careful where you are at four minutes past midnight! A creepy, spooky read. Most enjoyable.

Thank you Quirk Books and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Remaking".
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I had a difficult time forcing myself to finish this book. I feel this book had an identity issue and couldn’t truly decide on the genre. The plot plodded along and I really didn’t care what happened in the book as long as it ended, I received a free advanced copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving my review.
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I enjoyed the initial set up of this book. The story of two witches, banished out to the woods then hunted by the townsfolk. However, I really found it hard going once it moved to the retelling (by way of a movie). 
Just really difficult to get in to, and at times a little irritating.
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