My wife recently said that I probably do not like books about witches. I begged to differ, but then I realized she was probably talking about drippy-hippie trendy stories about New Age, Practical Magic-type witches. In that case, no I certainly do not care for that sort of thing.

Now, had she meant the type of witches who eat children, or come back from the dead to exact gruesome revenge upon their victims, then, yes, I do like witch fiction.

I read Clay McLeod Chapman's Whisper Down the Lane last summer, and I liked it a lot. I finally got around to his previous horror novel, The Remaking. The Verdict?

I loved The Remaking. Even more so than the excellent Whisper Down the Lane.

The Remaking is the story of a witch and her daughter, whose story becomes the stuff of urban legend. In a tiny Virginia town in the 1930s, a woman and her daughter are branded as witches and are burned and buried in consecrated ground. One of the people from the town is obsessed with the story, and he seeks out to make a movie about it in the '70s. When a tragedy involving the young girl who plays the daughter occurs, the legend really takes off.

Later, in the horror-barren nineties, a hotshot young director wants to remake the movie. Then, in the late twenty-teens, a true crime podcaster attempts to shed light on the mystery of the whole thing.

The main thrust of The Remaking is on the young girl from the original movie, as she grapples with her sanity even while she is inexorably tied to the graveyard where the so-called witches were put to rest.

The Remaking is the kind of novel that invites speculation from its readers. The plot contains ambiguities, and the conclusion is open for interpretation. There are potent scenes of horror that take place in various stages of the story, and Chapman displays a canny insider's knowledge of genre tropes. The title itself is a sly dig at the creative bankruptcy that has plagued the field in the past twenty years.

Clay McLeod Chapman is damned good. His stories are not simple ones, and he is as concerned with the psychology of his characters, and the sociology of the world around them, as he is in scenes of terror. 2022 is still young, but The Remaking is one of the better books I have read so far this year.

Chapman's next, Ghost Eaters, is coming in September 2022. I am excited about it. I am also excited about meeting him at Scares That Care Authorcon, which is less than one week from now as I write these words.

Written by Mark Sieber

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