Cover Image: The Remaking

The Remaking

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Member Reviews

I did like the story but I did find it a little repetitive.  I think if it weren't for that I would have given it 4 out of 5.
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No one can forget the Witch Girl of Pilot Creek. Years ago, Jessica was burned to death with her mother, then buried in the local cemetery under a thick layer of concrete, her grave  surrounded by an iron fence made of interlocking crosses. No one wanted that little girl getting out. and no one will stop telling her story. There was that awful movie from the seventies and the remake two decades later that went terribly wrong, then the podcaster who decided to revisit the site with the actress who starred in both movies...

I absolutely loved the first three-quarters of this book, but the ending fell flat and left me disappointed. The author has a wonderful way of vividly describing things and bringing them to life and he perfectly captures that love for old horror movies and the independent video stores that came long before Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.
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A terrifically chilling ghost story, telling the story of an urban legend that recreates itself with each generation. The story of the Little Witch Girl is reimagined from its origins through campfire tales to a horror movie and then a podcast, and with each remaking, it claims new victims. Delicious and creepy.
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The Remaking was an absolute creep-fest! Wholly atmospheric with a writing style that propels you through the pages. The story of Ella Louise and Jessica Ford is eternal, told by word of mouth, through film, and then a podcast - but it was the story of Amber Pendelton haunted by the formidable Ford's that meshed most with me. A child tormented that becomes a woman tortured. Amber's past remains her present, unravels her future, and like all lives touched by the Ford's it's not until their bitter end that they are finally released. 

Thank you to @NetGalley and @ClayMcLeod for my copy of The Remaking. This is my honest review.
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I'd just like to say how much I love the cover of this book for this edition. It totally fits.

And I did love this book...until the end. But I'll get to that.

What I really liked about this book was the story within a story for lack of a better way of putting it. I was hooked from the beginning and I really liked Amber. I found myself rooting for her throughout the whole book.

The Remaking is nicely plotted and paced...until it wasn't.

Sadly for me the ending (mostly)fell apart and seemed rushed and I don't think I completely understood the last pages?

That said-this really was an enjoyable book and if you are looking for something a bit different in the horror genre this a fresh edition

* In retrospect, upon thinking more about this ending, I think that the pace changed the tension level (very effective). Plus, I just didn't want the story to end.

Rating - 4 hearts out of 5
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This book is based on the legend of the Little Witch Girl of Pilot's Knob, Kentucky.  Go Google it!

In this book the story starts with a young woman and her daughter being accused of witchcraft in 1931.  The girl was only 9 years old when local folks commited an atrocious crime against her and her mother. But little Jessica didn't go quietly, if the ghost stories told around campfires are to be believed.  The legend of the Little Witch Girl of Pilot's Creek, Virginia endured, so much so that 20 years after the alleged killings one young film maker who himself has been obsessed by the story since hearing it as a child decides to make a movie about the little witch girl and her mother.  The budget is tiny, the script is laughably ridiculous, but there is something about Amber Pendleton, the little girl cast to play the young witch.  So, the movie is made, after a fashion, but things on set do not go to plan.  The movie is panned by critics but because of the extraordinary rumours of events on set, the low budget horror movie gathers a huge cult following.  20 years, Amber is still struggling to deal with what happened during the making of the movie.  Her acting career pretty much ended there and then and she now gets by doing movie convention appearances, numbed by drink and drugs.  Then one day, at one such convention, a fan tells her how much they are looking forward to the planned remake of the movie that ruined Amber's life.  Surely those terrible events cannot possibly be repeated....

I really enjoyed this book  It has a very eerie, atmospheric feel and the movie aspects are very reminiscent of the horror films of the 1980s and 90s.  A good, fun read.
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This was flipping terrifying.  Clay McLeod Chapman has a gift for the giving the chills.  Look forward to his next work!
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As a big horror movie fan, I loved the way this book drew on horror movie history, and I particularly enjoyed the way it depicted the evolution of the genre in a way that was both insightful and cynically entertaining. This was a creepy, quick read that had some beautiful writing and characters that stayed with me long after I'd finished. I look forward to reading more by Clay McLeod Chapman.
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1930's Pilot's Creek, Virginia

Odd Ella Louise lives in a cabin in the woods with her even stranger daughter, Jessica. Ella Louise runs an apothecary from her home that the towns folks visit secretly as no one wants to be seen visiting them in fear of being ostracized by the town. When a pregnant woman in terrible pain visits Elle Louise in need of help the tincture that she is given ends up killing her and the baby. The town is in an uproar and they demand death to the witches. Five men stalk their cabin in the night and burn them at the stake in the name of justice. Ella Louise's body is buried somewhere in the woods that only the men know of. Jessica, being a child and in fear of her returning from the grave to get her revenge, they bury under concrete and gravel and they erect a fence of crucifixes around the grave so her spirit can't escape.

Mother and Daughter continue to search for one another in the woods. This is a tale they tell at campfires.


Lee Ketchum has made it his life's work to bring the tale of the Witch Girl of Pilot’s Creek to life on the big screen. He casts Amber Pendleton as the young Jessica in his movie Don't Tread on Jessica's Grave. During shooting something happens to Amber that casts shadows over the rest of her life.


Amber is now an adult and suffers from panic attacks and anxiety. She abuses pharmaceutical drugs and drinks way more than she should. At a recent Terrorcon she attended (an hated!) and as she is signing autographs one of her fans tells her that they are remaking the movie. About a week later, her agent whom she hadn't heard from in a year, says the director wants her to star as Ella Louise.
In this film a young girl named Danielle is to play the part of Jessica. Once again, things go terribly on set.

Present Day

A true crime investigator wants to get to the bottom of this story so he hunts down the reclusive Amber Pendleton for an interview on his podcast. Will he get the answers he's looking for?

This book has great bones and I found the premise interesting. Sadly, I did not find the execution nearly as satisfying. The author is a fine writer but there was so much repetition. Let me give you some examples of what I mean:

'The woods were cold. She walked on. It was cold. So cold. The woods were cold. She thought of her mother, who was cold, and how they had walked these woods. The cold woods."

"Amber glanced back up and realized Miss Lambert was still holding her arms out.
Reaching out for her.
For her. For a hug. An embrace.
To hold Amber."

"It’s only a movie …
Only a movie …
Only a movie …
Only …"

"I’m going to take you back home.

Stuff like that irks the shit out of me.

Also, this book isn't remotely spooky or scary which is what I was hoping for. It felt more like the ins and outs of movie making which I have absolutely no interest in.

My verdict: Not a bad book, not a great book, it is the okay-est of books. 3 stars!

Thank you to Quirk Books for granting my wish for an ARC on NetGalley.
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Wowzers! I really enjoyed this!

I loved reading through Amber's life, and how wrapped up in Jessica's story she was. I enjoyed the theme of "Is she mentally ill? Is she possessed?" because those are just so fun and creepy. I love being kept guessing with that kind of stuff.

I also really enjoyed how natural the writing flowed. The pages seemed to just melt away because the way things were written sound so natural. Sometimes, people really try hard to make horror novels sound scary by the way of how complicated the descriptions of characters and whatnot are, but this didn't? Does that make sense? Idunno. I'm tired. It just kind of gave it to you straight. And man, I appreciate that right now.

Also? This cover is VERY cool. I didn't happen to realize the finer details of the snake looking like a film reel until something similar was mentioned in the book.
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This book really kicked off my current obsession with "haunted/cursed horror film" stories. The three stages of narration really added to the idea of an urban legend being created.
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I was hooked by the concept of The Remaking. It tracks the evolution of a local ghost story about a 'little witch girl' through several decades. We hear the original 1930s campfire tale first: a suspected witch, Ella Louise Ford, was hounded out of the town of Pilot's Creek after bringing disgrace upon her family. She lived in the woods, helping desperate locals with herbal remedies, until she was accused of causing a woman's miscarriage and became the subject of a literal witch-hunt. Ella Louise and her young daughter Jessica were burned at the stake, and Jessica (whom the locals suspected of being even more powerful than her mother) was buried in a reinforced, fenced-off grave. According to lore, the two ghosts are still searching for one another.

This allegedly true story is adapted into two films: a low-budget 70s slasher and, two decades later, an ironic proto-Scream remake. Amber Pendleton, the child actor who plays Jessica in the first film, goes on to play her mother in the second. Finally, in 2016, there's a podcast which seeks to uncover the truth behind the Jessica story and the legends that have sprung up around it.

I loved the idea and I loved the story. Unfortunately, I did not love the style. In this book, nothing is ever stated once when it can be phrased in five different ways and repeated to death (with line breaks). To give an example of what I mean, it's this sort of thing:

     Amber glanced back up and realized Miss Lambert was still holding her arms out.
     Reaching out for her.
     For her. For a hug. An embrace.
     To hold Amber.

Why are any of the words after '... holding her arms out' necessary? Why do they need to be on separate lines? Occasional use to emphasize a particular point would be fine, but it's no exaggeration to say most of the book is written like this. I ended up skim-reading a lot of the text, focusing solely on the important plot points, which I remained interested in despite my irritation.

Get a ruthless editor to remove all the reiteration, and this would be an excellent creepy tale with an irresistible concept. As it is, the style gets in the way of the story. But I did really like the story.
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Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for the advance copy of this book!

This book was everything I wanted it to be. It had the perfect creep factor and chills. I loved the plot and storyline in the book. It gave me all the feels I was looking for when I started reading this. I highly recommend this author. I loved the writing.  I will be looking for other works in the future from this author.
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This started off so good and as the parts went on it continued to get more and more less interesting. I thought the concept of truth to movie to after movie interesting though it didn't feel as flushed out as I hoped it could have been.
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If you get too close to this urban legend, you risk becoming part of it. 

The residents of Pilot’s Creek always knew there was something strange about Ella Louise Ford. Rumoured to be a witch, she became an outcast, but that didn’t stop the townsfolk from visiting Ella Louise’s apothecary shop to seek cures for what ailed them. Naturally, Ella Louise pays the price for being different.

“Tonight, they were going to burn a witch.”

Ella Louise is buried in an unmarked grave. Her daughter, Jessica, who was rumoured to have been twice as powerful as her mother, is buried in the town’s cemetery. Jessica’s reinforced steel coffin is filled with concrete. Then there’s a layer of gravel and if that wasn’t enough, there’s a fence of crucifixes surrounding her grave. That little girl scared those men so much they wanted to make sure she would never escape her grave.

“If you ask me, those two aren’t done.
Not with this town.”

I love urban legends and ghost stories. I was even more invested when I learned Ella Louise and Jessica’s story was inspired by the real double murder of Mary Louise Ford and her daughter, Mary Ellen, which has become its own urban legend. 

I was captivated by the story of this mother and daughter in Part One, but was disappointed when their story was subsumed by that of Amber Pendleton, a child actress. The rest of the story follows Amber, who played Jessica in a B grade movie. Later there is a reboot and finally a podcast, each delving into the urban legend but ultimately focusing more on Amber than the Fords. I really wanted Ella Louise and Jessica to be given more space in this story.

I didn’t find this story scary although, to be fair, I’m not easily scared by fiction. As the story progressed it began to feel more like a social commentary: on child actors and overbearing stage parents, horror movies, their reboots and sequels, horror fans, the victimhood of women, and the injustice of the justice system.

My main niggle was the reliance on repetition in this book. I don’t generally have a problem with repetition, but here it was overdone. It seemed like every other page I was finding passages like:

“It’s only a movie …
Only a movie …
Only a movie …
Only …”

“I’m going to take you back home.

“Keep it spinning. Spinning.

Content warnings include mention of alcoholism, bullying, death by suicide, drug addiction, immolation, lynchings, mental health, miscarriage and physical abuse.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Quirk Books for granting my wish to read this book.
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Minor Spoilers

Clay McLeod Chapman takes a popular American ghost story and rebrands, or “remakes” it by changing the formula and ideas surrounding Mary Evelyn Ford, a girl accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake with her mother in Western Kentucky around the turn of the 20th century.  To this day, she supposedly haunts Pilot Knob cemetery where she lays at rest, and continues to search for her mother who never received a proper burial...

Much to my chagrin, I had never heard of this tale, so I immediately requested this ARC on NetGalley.  In some ways, I liked the creative story, but for the most part, the direction and writing style left me feeling exasperated.

Once again, I am grateful for the ARC, so I will start with best feature of the novel; the plot.  The story follows the life of Amber Pendleton, a child actress starring in ‘Don’t Tread on Jessica’s Grave’, a 1970s hippie exploitation film satirizing the Ford hauntings, filmed on location at the actual gravesite.  You’ll notice the name Jessica, not Mary.  Eventually, things actually get a little too scary for Amber on the set, and the overall experience messes Amber up.  She unfortunately meets the stereotypical standards of a child actress: she starts using drugs, hardly works, etc.   Without spoiling the finer points and reviewing too much, the film receives a cult following; not because of the actual movie, but because of the behind the scene antics (think ‘Poltergeist’ or ‘Cannibal Holocaust’) and Amber is thrust back into the spotlight.  Well, horror movie conventions, anyway.

Here is an excerpt from the ‘Remaking’ that I liked, and I truly wanted more of: 

“People think Nobody’s listening.  But that’s not true.  The trees listen.  Always listening.  Every last romantic tryst.  The suicides.  The lynchings.  You name it.  The trees will testify to them.”

That’s some dark and brutal horror right there, and I’m not the biggest fan of those short sentences, but it’s creepy in dialogue format.  When most of the story is broken down, however, we get the same repetitive varying sentence structures that are becoming more popular.  I think they are annoying:

‘A girl.  Spinning.  Spinning.  There she is again.  Spinning.  Spinning.’

I wish i could give this a 5.  Had ‘Remaking’ been more polished and presentable,  it easily would have received that rating, which is why I still recommend it.
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I’m giving it 4/5 FOR NOW because this is an ARC (which thank you by the way for allowing me to read this awesome book in advance) but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the finished product will likely be a five star book.

To all of my horror lovers out there who are desensitized to all things spooky, I found it! I found the book that gave me the chills and I’ll be damned if I ever stay in another hotel with adjoining rooms ever again!

This book is a great spin on a classic campfire ghost story and, believe it or not, is based on a real tragedy.

It’s about a mother and daughter who were burned at the stake after being accused of witchcraft. Decades later, Amber Pendleton is cast in a 70’s horror movie to play the daughter. Amber’s experience while on set ends up changing her life. Then again, she is asked to come back for another remake to play the mother. And again, her experiences alter her life and she becomes a pariah. It isn’t until twenty years later, when a podcaster requests an interview with Amber, that she gets the chance to free herself.

For one, I love the fact that I wanted to hate Amber, but I couldn’t help but feel bad for her. I was honestly torn throughout the whole read on my feelings for her.

I also loved how Clay McLeod Chapman connects the timelines so seamlessly. It flows so well and made me want to read more. It’s a hard book to put down.

Can we also take a moment to appreciate this cover?! There’s a line that goes “No- not snakes. Film strips. Her skin feels like the tangled reel of a movie, my movie, it’s brittle celluloid noosed around my neck.” So I have to ask; was this the inspiration for the cover? Because if so, then bravo sir.

I certainly can’t wait to see the finished product. If I haven’t said enough, just go pick the book up in September and thank me later.
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In an exploration of horror and the evolution of stories, Clay McLeod Chapman's The Remaking chronicles a fictional historical event involving a mysterious death and possible witchcraft, as well as the subsequent in-story movies inspired by the event. As a reader who doesn't often pick up horror/thriller novels, this was a great transition for me. I loved that it was based in some realism, and found that the creative change in time periods throughout the novel made it stand out.
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I enjoyed this one way more than I expected. Akin to being having a nightmare you wake up from, but picks right back up where it left off the moment you drop back to sleep. The perfect way to spend a few hours if you're looking for something to creep you out after the sun sets. 

**Thanks to Netgalley and Quirk Books for the ARC.**
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Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman is a fast paced fun supernatural horror tale that explores the concept of retelling campfire tales/ urban legends in the modern world. First of all, this story is inspired by a true story of a mother and her daughter which were murdered because they were accused of being witches. This real tragedy has inspired its own urban legend, which is what this story is based upon.  The Remaking is broken into four parts, but all center on telling and re-telling the same story/ legend.  Part 1 begins with the story of Ella Louise and her daughter Jessica being told around a campfire in 1951.  Part 2 is set in 1971 and is about the making of a horror movie being made about the double murder. The movie is titled Don't Tread on Jessica's Grave and stars child star Amber Pendleton as Jessica (AKA The Little Witch Girl). Though the movie is released with minimal success, it is considered a "cursed movie" and has a cult following.  Part 3 takes place in 1995 with a remake called I Know What You Did on Jessica's Grave.  Amber is also starring in the remake as Ella Louise.  Will this movie do better than the first or will it also be a cursed movie?  Part 4 takes place in 2016 and involves a podcast interview with Amber. All four parts are different provide a different retelling/ remake of the original story, which ensures that this story will continue to be told and what implications this will have on the people involved and the town.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the way that the story was told and how everything connected. I also loved the concept of modern urban legends  have evolved throughout history.  It was a fun story and I liked the concept.
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