Rene Denfeld The Enchanted: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780062323330

The Enchanted: A Novel

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9780062323330: The Enchanted: A Novel

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.

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: Journalist Rene Denfeld channels her experience as a death penalty case investigator into a gut-wrenching, spellbinding debut novel. The Enchanted goes deep inside a decaying prison where we meet York, a death row inmate who is on the verge of execution, and "The Lady," an investigator who (against York's wishes) delves into his history in an attempt to have his sentence reduced. What she finds is far from pretty, revealing parallels to her own awful past. There are others, none without tragedy. But their morbid, often unrepentantly violent stories are balanced with moments of emotional escape--poetic beauty from outside the prison and strange explanations from within. These magical aspects, or "enchanted things," are the sensational imaginings of an unhinged, unnamed inmate--York's prison neighbor and our narrator. His is a unique perspective--one that is at once irrational and insightful, driving the plot and providing context and description beyond the walls of the prison and beyond the realms of reality. The result is captivating and perplexing. Given such dark subjects, "enjoying" The Enchanted may feel uncomfortable, but there’s no crime in embracing Denfeld's ability to evoke empathy for seemingly undeserving characters and inspire wonder within an unlikely place. --Robin A. Rothman

From the Back Cover:

The lady, an investigator who excels at uncovering information to save her clients from execution . . .

The fallen priest, beaten down by his guilt over a terrible sin and its tragic consequences . . .

The warden, a kind man within a cruel system . . .

The mute prisoner, sensing what others cannot in what he calls "this enchanted place" . . .

The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison. Two outsiders walk here: a woman known only as the lady, and a fallen priest. The lady comes to the prison when she has a job to do. She's skilled at finding the secrets that get men off death row. This gift threatens her career—and complicates her life—when she takes on the case of York, a killer whose date of execution looms. York is different from the lady's former clients: he wants to die. Going against the condemned man's wishes, the lady begins her work. What she uncovers about York's birth and upbringing rings chillingly familiar. In York's shocking and shameful childhood, the lady sees the shadows of her own.

The lady is watched by a death row inmate who finds escape in the books he reads from the prison library and by reimagining the world he inhabits—a world of majestic golden horses that stampede underground and of tiny men who hammer away inside stone walls. He is not named, nor do we know his crime. But he listens. He listens to York's story. He sees the lady fall in love with the priest and wonders how such warmth is possible in these crumbling corridors. As tensions in "this enchanted place" build, he sees the corruption and the danger. And he waits as the hour of his own destiny approaches.

The Enchanted is a magical novel about redemption, the poetry that can exist within the unfathomable, and the human capacity to transcend and survive even the most nightmarish reality. Beautiful and unexpected, this is a memorable story.

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Denfeld, Rene
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