The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman

The Remaking - Clay McLeod Chapman

'The Remaking' is a self-aware horror novel about an urban legend with supernatural inertia. The story of how Ella Louise and her daughter Jessica were labeled witches and burned in a small southern town in the 1920s is told again and again, a cult movie, a 90s remake, eventually a podcast comes knocking....


The story is inviting enough, but the air went out of the novel when I realized a hundred pages in that the back-cover copy was the entire novel. The novel isn't about the vindication of Amber and/or a quest to get to the heart of the curse of Jessica, the little witch girl. You follow each stage and it doesn't matter, because you know what's going to happen. I know old 40s movie trailers used to show the whole film in 30 seconds, and audiences were fine with that, but I thought we were past all that. This isn't like 'Moby-Dick' or something, where we all know the ending but the brick of a novel is still worth reading. I feel like in the last five years or so there is no effort made in making trailers that invite you in. They just say it all. Which is disappointing, because this isn't Moby-Dick, or even a decent horror film.


This knowing exactly where the story was going as I plodded through it was a little frustrating and took a lot of the appreciation out of the occasionally well-crafted atmosphere generated by the book. Even if I didn't know where the story was going, I don't know if the novel would have held up, as each section had trouble standing on its own. We didn't spend enough time with anybody but the understandably anxious and, later, damaged Amber for any real horror to creep in.


I read it through to the end to see if the author would pull a last-minute victory of an ending, but it was some vague, pseudo-feminist babble. I don't think an author can have characters rattling around and doing nothing for hundreds of pages and then pretend at the end it was all part of some sort of grand scheme. It's too bad, I loved the horror film references and would have liked some contemporary commentary on the genre.