The Enchanted: A Novel

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The Enchanted: A Novel

by Rene Denfeld

HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS | February 21, 2014 | Trade Paperback

The Enchanted: A Novel is rated 4.2222 out of 5 by 9.

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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 256 pages, 8.3 × 5.6 × 0.7 in

Published: February 21, 2014

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0062323334

ISBN - 13: 9780062323330

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting I first heard of this novel from Kaiti at Harper Collins Canada. She raved about how good the writing in this book is and at that point I knew that I had to read it. It is a novel set in a prison and more specifically deals with the characters that are on death row. The story is narrated by a man on death row and is first person omniscient. This narrator seems to know things that he couldn't possibly know about certain characters in this novel. The book explores some of the horrors of prison life and at times it was difficult to read what was happening to some of the inmates. This book doesn't sugarcoat anything and I liked the raw grit of the story. I found that I was interested in what was happening with each of the characters in this novel. I would say that the author didn't focus on one particular character but on a whole cast of characters with equal value to the story. One of my favourite characters was the investigator. She is hired to investigate the life of York, a death-row inmate close to his final days. During the course of her investigation you can see some similarities in York's life and in the investigator's life. The juxtaposition of their lives really brings to light that life is a series of choices. For some, you may decide to overcome your adversity while for others it may just be too difficult. At the same time, your past plays such an integral part of how your character is formed. Denfeld poses the question: Did York really stand a chance? The book made me question some of the judgements I have formed previously. Does a killer deserve my sympathy? Is that killer still not just a human being that may have been handed a crappy hand? I think the real main character of this story isn't one single person but the jail itself. It seems to possess some sort of magical element to it and it records the stories of it's guests. It tells the story of the corrupt guard, the warden, the small time petty thieves, the kingpins, the murderers and the priest. Denfeld is master storyteller and I simply couldn't read this book fast enough. If you don't mind the gruesome at times mixed in with a great narrative then this is the book for you. I think this is a must-read of 2014.
Date published: 2014-08-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for me Didn't enjoy the writing style.
Date published: 2014-06-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unexpected story You definitely can't judge this book by its cover, which is beautiful, but the story is dark, full of pain, and ugliness that is written powerfully enough to force the reader to look at a side of humanity not often considered. And to realize that the 'enchanted' lives therein are the reality of society's faults and misdirections. Denfeld has crafted a nameless cast of memorable characters, and written a strong tale. I kind of wish I hadn't read it.
Date published: 2014-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! I bought this book hoping it would live up to my expectations, and it sure did! This books shines light on a topic that is usually very dark. This book is full of beautiful metaphors and descriptions. It does cover some darker subjects but i would recommend it to anyone who thinks they can handle it. It is worth it and you will be glad you read it. Truly a tremendous work!
Date published: 2014-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant from the first word. This book lives up to its title and is enchanting. It is beautiful and captivating and will have you spellbound from the moment you pick it up.
Date published: 2014-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enchanting This was a great book! It was almost awe inspiring in it's simple writing and nameless characters. The author takes you into a prison, death row particularly and make you live in it. The prisoners are guilty of horrible crimes and yet you come away totally feeling sorry for them, for the abuse committed against them. You realize that these monsters are human beings, and you begin to realize that they hate themselves far more than other people can. One prisoner has created for himself a magical world, he reads books and lives only for the next one to come through the slot in his prison door. He is also the conduit through which we know all of the other characters. This book is very dark, the whole time I was reading it, I felt like I was in a dungeon, but at the same time it has moments of hope. I liked how the author captured the little things in life we take for granted, the blue of the sky, the sound of birds singing, the smell of rain and the touch of another person.
Date published: 2014-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best books I've read This is definitely one of the best books I've read in the last while, if not ever. Denfeld's writing style is so lyrical and poetic, it turns a potentially grim plot into something magical. Seriously, even if this isn't your usual style/genre of book (it isn't mine), I highly recommend this novel.
Date published: 2014-04-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is not a book about horses. Personally, The Enchanted is unlike any other story I have ever read. The cover of the novel is enthralling: Three golden horses gallop freely out of what seems like prison bars. But as the author sheepishly pointed out during the launch of her novel in Toronto, "This is not a story about horses." It is also not a story of magical places (well, not the Enid Blyton kind of magical world that if you are like me imagines). Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted is a story of something much darker: Death row. The narrator is someone on death row. We don’t know his name, or a lot about his back-story. He is more of an observer and he paints for us a somewhat magical world of life inside the prison walls of the dark dungeons. His beautiful prose about the horrid circumstances is a credit to author’s view on the world – that amidst all the darkness and despair, hope prevails. “This is an enchanted place. Others don't see it but I do.” “The most wonderful enchanted things happen here - the most enchanted things you can imagine. I want to tell you while I still have time, before they close the black curtain and I take my final bow.” As the narrator observes the comings and goings inside the prison walls, his focus revolves around a few key characters. “The lady” is the death row investigator who is brought in to save a fellow named York. The interesting thing is that despite York’s wishes to face death row, she is working tirelessly to get him off. “York knows the truth doesn’t matter in here. Inside, the lies you tell become the person you become. On the outside, sun and reality shrink people back to their actual size. In here, people grow into their shadows.” If you meet Rene Denfeld and hear her story, it is not a huge stretch to see the similarities between “the lady” and herself – one of a death row investigator whose clients are death row inmates. At times, when you realize that the inmates have committed horrendous crimes, the story can be hard to chew. But “the lady” always believes that there is another side to every story. Slowly she is willing to arrest her life to be taken over by the death penalty investigation – a labour-intensive process that can take months to locate ancient records, track down witnesses and diagnose the truth of a crime. The narrator’s own story arc is something that Rene Denfeld lets us keep guessing throughout the book. The reader assumes that either he must have committed a heinous act or is being held wrongly in a prison for something he didn’t do. But he draws us in with his poetic observations and we start to also see the refreshing way he sees life. And despite what the dungeons may really be like, what we do know is that he is happy to be in this enchanted place. “I was glad when the warden led me to the dungeon. I was glad when he opened the cell door himself and I stepped inside, knowing I would never leave again until the last journey. By that time I had realized others could see monsters coiled under my skin, see the screaming fear. They could see the wet mattress and splayed legs and all that has come before and could come again.” It is interesting that Rene Denfeld very rarely refers to her characters by their actual names. The warden, is simply, “the warden”, the death penalty investigator is “the lady”, and the narrator doesn’t really have a name. It almost feels like this is intentional. Perhaps just like the outside world has forgotten the nameless, faceless inmates who are on death row, The Enchanted reminds us that these people and the others that touch their lives, continue to live in anonymity. And as a result of this hauntingly, and beautifully told story, Rene Denfeld has managed to give them a face and a voice hitherto forgotten in the depths of shadows and darkness.  @ShilpaRaikar
Date published: 2014-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Be Enchanted "The book itself doesn't matter. It's that he found another world in it." Funny how my first crack at "The Enchanted" didn't immediately transport me to another world. I was skimming the words, barely going deeper than the superficial printed words. When I did decide to go back to it, I felt I owed it more than to simply finish it. I wanted to read it from the beginning, and what a different experience it was when I'd read it in the right frame of mind. I had finally found the enchanting world that was within this book. I love books that have more than one life to it; books that can again and again give you something more than what you expect and have known from previous readings. Rene Denfeld has crafted a haunting novel with elegant and understated prose. There are times when I would read past a sentence then go back to it, because I was held onto by the words and couldn't shake it off. Like, "the layers of life a man can live without even knowing his shadow lives on the floors below," seems innocuous but it left such a dent on me that I had to pause, make a note of it, and let it sink in. The novel encapsulated darkness and despair but also provided forgiveness and optimism in its provocative plot and its nameless characters. Nameless yet not faceless, for I see and feel them clear as day. "The Enchanted" opened up my eyes to a setting I wasn't familiar with by blending it with poetic etherealism without shying from the hard facts of life. The mind is a delicate thing, capable of going places that can astound and confound us. Words have been put to paper in expressing such luster and bleakness of a human spirit. And for this, I know "The Enchanted" will endure in my mind in the good and bad times.
Date published: 2014-01-02

– More About This Product –

The Enchanted: A Novel

by Rene Denfeld

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 256 pages, 8.3 × 5.6 × 0.7 in

Published: February 21, 2014

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0062323334

ISBN - 13: 9780062323330

From the Publisher

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.

About the Author

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.

www.renedenfeld.com

Editorial Reviews

“A striking one-of-a-kind prison novel. . . . [with] rich, haunting prose . . . A stunning first novel from an already accomplished writer.” — Publishers Weekly

“[An] impressive debut. . . . Read this magical book, and prepare to be spellbound.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“[An] evocative first novel. . . . Denfeld’s humanizing of the potential for horror that is within all of us and her insistence that the reader see the beauty in the darkest corners of life sizzles through her sharp prose, which both makes us flinch and invites us to imagine.” — Booklist

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