Review: The Enchanted, by Rene Denfeld

About the book, The Enchanted

The Enchanted

• Hardcover: 256 pages
• Publisher: Harper (March 4, 2014)

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.

Buy a copy, and start reading.

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About the author, Rene Denfeld

Rene Denfeld

Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, Mitigation Specialist, and fact Investigator in death penalty cases. She has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a published author of four books including the international bestseller The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order, Kill The Body, The Head Will Fall, and All God’s Children: Inside the Dark and Violent World of Street Families.

Connect with Rene

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My Thoughts

A book about life on death row should not be able to be described with words like “beautiful” and “haunting,” and yet, those are the two words that come to my mind when I think of this book.

I read most of it in the course of one evening, much of that time spent soaking in the bath. Needless to say, I was so entranced with author Rene Denfeld’s use of language that not only was I stopping to read bits of it aloud (I needed to TASTE the words), thus alarming my dogs, but the water had gone cold, and I had become a complete prune before I could tear myself away.

The story itself is rather grim: a prisoner awaits execution, and uses books and his imagination to transcend the bars that imprison him. An investigator (the Lady) digs up as much information as she can in order to save the lifers, but the work is slowly eating away at her soul. A fallen priest offers whatever spiritual solace he can.

While the Lady and the Fallen Priest do move toward, and into, a relationship, there is no way this can be described as a romance, nor is any of it terribly happy.

What it is, then, is terribly, awfully, human. Poignant, visceral, naked humanity, wrapped in amazing language that drips from your tongue like the slow creep of river water down the prison’s stone walls.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. For more information, visit the tour page for this book by clicking here.