The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman

Gather round all who would hear the tale of Ella Louise Ford and her daughter Jessica, the witches of Pilot’s Creek (Kentucky). Ella Louise born into a well-to-do family but was ever the strangest of children. She used dried tobacco leaves to make charms, keep bees in jars under her bed and even talked to opossums. After a time, folks began to shun the Ford family. So, when Ella Louise became of age her mother was determined she be the grandest debutant at the dance in a beautiful gown of pink. On the night of the big dance though, Ella Louise entered with her dress in rags, covered in mud and leaves in her hair. For her long-suffering parents, it was the end; they banished her from their life.

Ella Louise went to live in the woods outside Pilot’s Creek in a small cabin where nine months later she gave birth to her daughter, Jessica. All the town’s people dubbed Ella Louise and her daughter witches but that didn’t stop them from visiting the small cabin in the dark of night for potions and herbs. A pregnant woman’s death was laid at the door of Ella Louise and Jessica. Without proof, the law could do nothing, but a small band of men thought otherwise. They drug Ella Louise and Jessica from their home and burned them alive. Separated in death, Ella Louise was buried far from her daughter deeper in the woods, while Jessica’s bones were sealed in a vault buried in the ground and surrounded by metal crosses that were meant to keep the little girl in her grave.

In 1971, Lee Ketchum, a director, who had heard the stories as a young boy, felt compelled, to retell the witches’ story in a movie. This was the curse of the town’s people of Pilot’s Creek, which they should never forget what had been done on that long-ago night in 1931; the story must live on. Rife with problems from the beginning it would also disrupt Amber’s life, the young girl who plays Jessica.

 In the 1990’s, Amber, still known for playing the role of Jessica in the film “Don’t Tread on Jessica,” is appearing at comic conventions all these years later. She is offered by an ardent fan the role of Ella Louise, rather than Jessica, in a remake he wishes to shoot. Haunted during filming by Jessica and Ella Louise, their desire to be together again, can she face Pilot Creek, Ella Louise, and Jessica once more?  

Filled with suspense, reading from multiple points of view, along with diverse storytelling, Clay McLeod Chapman released The Remaking as his second adult novel last October. An author of various children’s books he engages the reader to keep turning the page in the novel wondering what happens next and how all the characters fit together. If you are interested in learning more about The Remaking and Clay McLeod Chapman, I recommend checking out this episode from the Reading Glasses podcast where he was interviewed not only about his books but his reading quirks and what he enjoys reading.

Review by MicahSt Matthews Branch