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Mike’s Book Review: The Remaking (2020)


★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Written by Clay McLeod Chapman.

A determined novel that spans multiple time frames and plumb near covers every last aspect horror genre — except for UFOs and Bigfoot. That might sound like a stretch, but it ain’t. There’s witches. There’s ghouls. There’s 1970s grindhouse lore. There’s the conventions and their inevitable fan boy hangers on.  There’s even true crime podcasters. This book covers it all. Maybe that’s a good thing and maybe it’s not. 

The Remaking really is author Clay McLeod Chapman’s love-letter to horror. All things horror.  By deploying a really interesting hyper-linear approach Chapman is able to stitch together a series of stories, that would otherwise be short stories on their own, in to a full fledged spook tale. 

Fangoria! Woo!

At its core the Remaking follows a mother/daughter — Ella Louise and Jessica — a familial witch pair in rural Virginia. This demonic duo is unjustly(?) persecuted and burned for their oddly back-to-the-earth ways, but they’ve decided to exact revenge over and over and over on the backwoods community of Pilot Creek. 

Not being satisfied with this singular tale, Chapman moves elements of this frightful lore from 1951 to 1971 to 1995 and then on to the present. But it’s Jessica, the witchy daughter, who’s filled to brim malevolent witchcraft and acts as the terrifying tendons for the scares through the ages. Her presence in the woods of Pilot Creek continue to draw the curious, the baffled, and the cursed. 

In the 1970s portion of the the Remaking, Chapman wonderfully creates a faux-grinhouse-spookshow in the form of the tragic film, Don’t Tread on Jessica’s Grave. A film beset by superstition and real and imagined curses courtesy of Ella Louise and Jessica. The film, much like the horribly real calamities faced by the Exorcist, the Omen, and Poltergeist, is riddled with film set problems. In its wake is a scarred director, a wrecked film crew, and an emotionally defunct child actress, Amber Pendelton. 

As the witchy curse moves through the ages it is also unfortunately attached to some who encounter it. Amber Pendleton must contend with the one-off failure of child acting, a related series of addictions, the terrors of greedy horror convention fan-boys, a nasty witch, and the worst of all — PODCASTERS!

The Remaking really does manage to cover all things horror and that’s its gift and its curse. All the stories that Chapman manufactures are wonderful and can quite honestly stand on their own as independent novels.  Just as one story begins to bring out the scares the reader is whipsawed to the next.  It’s not that the stories aren’t spooky…they most definitely are. But, the Remaking might have been better served by lingering a pinch longer on these torrid tales of the tortured curse of Jessica. 

The Remaking is available at all your fav’ bookstores.

ISBN: 168369211X

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