A wondrous and redemptive debut novel, set in a stark world where evil and magic coincide, The Enchanted combines the empathy and lyricism of Alice Sebold with the dark, imaginative power of Stephen King
This is an enchanted place. Others don’t see it, but I do.
The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs with the devastating violence of prison life.
Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners’ pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honesty and corruption—ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.
Beautiful and transcendent, The Enchanted reminds us of how our humanity connects us all, and how beauty and love exist even amidst the most nightmarish reality.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Enchanted in Different Ways
Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted, uses emotion and imagery well throughout the novel. She is a death row investigator and has seen it all before, Denfeld gives us a taste of what life behind bars is actually like. This is a great book with very gruesome content. Included, are wild horses running around in our narrator’s mind. He has officially gone insane. Our narrator has fallen in love with reading, and the library is his safe place. His favorite book is The White Dawn, he read the book multiple times. He did not know how to read very well so therefore some of the words were hard for him to understand. He said, "Sioux, paisley, ruche, Obsolete, rubric, crux. How do you say those words? How do they sound when others say them? Are they as pretty as a sound inside my head?" He tried forever to say the word 'Sioux' although he was still not sure how it sounds. He questioned, "Is the X silent?" This book shares the story of his life on death row while introducing us to other inmates along the way.
The narrator goes on to believe that life is a story and you’re writing it. He says, "Everything that is happened and will happen to me is all part of the story of this enchanted place – – all the dreams and visions and understandings that come to me in my dungeon cell." This place truly is enchanted. He shares his book with The Lady because he has hopes for her future. She is a death penalty investigator. Therefore, she tries to get the men off of death row by reviewing their cases. The Lady is valued by the men although some of them have lost hope and death is the only thing ahead of them.
Denfeld does a fantastic job of putting you in their shoes. This prison isn’t typical. It is old, dirty and castle like. There are many cellblocks, dungeons and rooms the inmates occupy. The rooms have flooded and sunlight is rare. The men go through more than we can imagine while being humiliated and abused by their authorities. Flibber-gibbets are making noise and running around the prison as well. What could they possibly be? Mice or bugs in the walls? It all seems absolutely absurd but an inmate’s life is a different life than the one we’re living.
Initially, I was worried about reading a book with so much negativity. Jail? Death Row? None of that sounds appealing to me at all. It also is sometimes hard for me to feel sorry for them, knowing the crimes they committed. After reading this book, I have much more respect for all they go through. Although I must warn you, this book is not an easy read, as it can be agonizing and painful at times. But it is worth it in the end because Denfeld shows how the men on death row are humans like the rest of us.
It by myself grtg pnyrtfirgtrugouyivytdteitdee esjft
Rene Denfeld takes us on a journey through death row, a topic she has much knowledge on as she was once the Chief Investigator at a public defender’s office. Denfeld has the knowledge and background to write a story along the lines of prison. This story is a roller coaster of a journey. Once we start becoming familiar with the characters we are reading about; we feel a sense of attachment as we roll up the rail of the coaster. The story is all about a place that matches the title well. We are told stories of death row through the eyes of a mute prisoner but hear other perspectives. As we learn the stories of the men who committed crimes preparing to be executed and the lady, whose job it is to change the court decision and get them off death row, we feel a sense of attachment to these fictional characters. Denfeld is effective at giving the reader knowledge about the experiences of struggle and hope on death row. This book gets better as you read and the creative writing will keep you engaged but if you are looking for a pick me up book or a book with a story that ends with a resolution or a happy ending, this is not the one. “Quiet, says the walls. Quiet, says my heart.” puts that sentence into perspective. (Denfeld, 175)
The book starts off confusing and boring. “I see where the small men hide with their tiny hammers, and how the fibber-gibbets dance while the oven ticks.” (Denfeld, 1) does not make sense because we do not know who the tiny men are, and most readers have never heard of fibber-gibbets. Denfeld gives the reader the benefit of the doubt to figure it out for themselves throughout the story. Denfeld uses this to prove her creativeness in her writing but at times she takes it too far where the reader can get confused. As we read more, we learn more about all the characters and their backgrounds like how York’s mother had tertiary syphilis in the brain (Denfeld, 27). This does not just mean about York’s mother, but it allows us to learn that he didn’t have a stable environment to live in growing up. The journey of York will keep the reader engaged through it all with his changes, background, and hope. Toward the end of the book, through Denfeld’s descriptive writing we are able to understand fully what is going on and we know the characters like we grew up with them which is hard for an author to do in a relatively short book like this.
Overall, this book is worth a read to get different perspectives on what goes on in death row. It doesn’t give a biased opinion, but it shows different angles through the eyes of Arden, the stories of York, the Lady, the Fallen Priest, and the Warden. Through the creative writing, we are challenged to think critically and connect points because everything Denfeld says has meaning and if it does not seem important at one point in the story, it will prove its worth later. Be prepared for a not so happy ending.