The Enchanted: A Novel by Rene DenfeldThe Enchanted: A Novel by Rene Denfeld

The Enchanted: A Novel

byRene Denfeld

Paperback | March 4, 2014

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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 Enchantedis 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.

Rene Denfeld is an author, journalist, and death penalty investigator. She has written for theNew York Times Magazine, theOregonian, and thePhiladelphia Inquirer, and is the author of four nonfiction books.The Enchantedreceived the Prix du Premier Roman Étranger in France.
Title:The Enchanted: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.64 inPublished:March 4, 2014Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062323334

ISBN - 13:9780062323330

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dark story, couldn't put it down The book had a lot of dark moments in it but still a great read and the point of view of the people on death row. I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2018-08-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different Excellent writing, but the view points got to be a little confusing at times. The book was good, although I struggled to understand the magical realism element added in with the tiny horses acting up etc. A very different view point though.
Date published: 2018-08-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from interesting I really enjoyed this book written from an inmates point of view.
Date published: 2018-06-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from interesting I really enjoyed this book written from an inmates point of view.
Date published: 2018-06-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dark but not interesting Well written, dark story that is quite sad but I couldn't get through the whole thing. The lack of understanding who is narrating at times was frustrating, and the story felt like it dragged on at some points. I did not fully understand the magical realism included either.
Date published: 2018-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from disturbingly real The author of this novel is a death penalty investigator, so of course this novel not only follows one prisoner in particular but also the investigator and events that result in the reversing of a death penalty decision. York the main character wants to die and welcomes death. The enchanted is a very enlightening novel regarding the corruption of the prison system. It is also a very revealing novel regarding the lives of those on death row. At times, it was difficult to read by very worth it!
Date published: 2018-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 5 Stunning Stars Disturbing...but beautiful! A strange combination. The Enchanted takes place in a prison, mainly depicting prisoners on death row or “in the dungeon.” You would think this would be completely dark and depressing, but there is just something about the lyrical language that makes it feel less so. The lady (as she is known in the prison by the unnamed narrator) investigates cases and provides facts that may or may not convert death penalties to life sentences. York is her current case, and he is scheduled for death in just 3 months. But unlike most recipients of her services, York is ready to die and does not want her help. As the lady delves more deeply into York’s painful past, the unnamed narrator provides gripping details about daily life in the prison that can at times be difficult to read. And that ending...bittersweet. The warden is by far my favorite character in the book. Just like in The Child Finder, Rene Denfeld takes a depressing subject and portrays it in a stunningly magical way. The stark contrast between the setting/events and her language is captivating. I didn’t necessarily love the subject matter, but feel the writing deserves 5 stars. 5 stars
Date published: 2018-03-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for me... I know this book has good reviews, but I have started to read it twice now and I just cannot get into it. In the end, I skipped ahead to the finish and my fears were confirmed. The dark tone and theme began on the first page and didn't end until the last page. Just not for me.
Date published: 2018-01-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok this was not bad, I must admit, but there were certain instances where it could've been improved.
Date published: 2018-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It Such an incredible story to read
Date published: 2017-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exquisite Fell in love with the book - prose is otherworldly.
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disturbing I knew this book would be dark but I wasn't prepared for such a disturbed and disturbing story. Some of the images will, unfortunately, stick in my mind. I also had problems with the writing style. I could keep track of whose voice was narrating at any given point, but the voices seemed so distant and detached. Not a book I can recommend.
Date published: 2017-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Opens Your Mind Tragically beautiful and poetically written. It definitely showed a whole other world of empathy. I was captivated from start to finish.
Date published: 2017-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written, poetically shown Beauty, wonder, and love can be found in the most unlikely of places. In The Enchanted, Denfeld paints a vivid picture of a world almost to horrifying to gaze into. And yet, the enchantment, the transcendence, that Denfeld taps into within this horrific world makes this book a powerful, emotional ride through some of the darkest places on Earth. Join the narrator in his dreary cell on death row, and follow along as he poetically shares his journey, his insight, and his pain. Upon the conclusion, you feel like a friend has walked out of your life. The character that Denfeld has created seems so real that you are guaranteed to miss the narrator upon closing this book. This book will become a staple on shelves around the world for years to come. I can only hope that Denfeld's foray into fiction will not cease here.
Date published: 2017-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! A dark story of beauty and hope, told from the most dismal and corrupt of places, with people who've suffered the ugliest and cruelest of backgrounds. Two people, similar backgrounds, different futures. What decides our futures? This is a beautifully told story. There's pain throughout, yet it's a story of hope, too. Death Row....not a place that would inspire such a lovely story, yet here it is.
Date published: 2017-05-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disturbing and Beautiful There were many excellent parts of this story, and I can't stop thinking about it. I found myself nodding along to many different passages, or alternatively, having to turn away from the intensity of the description. Although I'm not opposed to magical realism, I guess I found the contrast with harsh realities for certain characters to be jarring. Overall, this is definitely worth a read.
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Whimsical This is a hopeful story about the potential for magic to exist even amidst the most nightmarish of struggles - awaiting, as a death row inmate, a looming execution date. Denfeld was truly able to enchant; she sprinkled a last bit of magic and turned a horrid nightmare into something delicately hopeful. Not many stories have the power to bring me to tears, but this one did.
Date published: 2016-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book This was a great book to read, definitely was not what I had expected.
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Enchanted Not what I was expecting, but still a good, quick read.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth reading X1000 One of the best books I have read in a while. Not what I was expecting! It is a truly beautiful and enchanting book to read.
Date published: 2016-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply amazing. I will never forget this book. Ever. It wasn't what I expected, but turned out to be one of the finest novels I have ever read. 5 stars, hands down.
Date published: 2015-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow !! Where to begin though. I won't go into every detail of all my thoughts reading this book, but it did make me think of people on death row as 'humans'. I must confess I have no sympathy for people who commit horrific crimes and are destined to live out their lives on death row, in prisons full of such misery and abuse. I always say 'they get what they deserve'. But ... I can see how people who are dealt such 'hell on earth' do things they do that most of us shudder at - human feelings, regrets, compassion, empathy are all dead inside these people. Again, but ... letting them out of prison back into 'reality' is dangerous after having spent so much time behind bars. Rehabilitation is rarely achieved. People in their lives who should have protected them were unable to do so because others in THEIR lives failed as well, for many reasons. The corruption within the prison itself may be the horror that I despised most though. If it weren't for that, much of the abuse may not have happened, people turning a blind eye for greed --- well, that is a despicable human trait that goes back to the beginning of time. On a last note, the narrator was a surprise to me, and when his turn came, there were no horses galloping through the prison :( All was quiet and peaceful. Really, a must read.
Date published: 2015-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The enchanted A novel set on death row. Written from the perspective of a death row inmate awaiting execution. Great book
Date published: 2015-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome read. Highly recommend it! This book kept me wanting to more about the characters. Writer cleverly kept the twist from the reader til the end. Writing in the second person was really Added a different layer to the story. Almost made the dark themes easier to read and get through.
Date published: 2014-08-26
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 5 out of 5 by from The Enchanted Wonderfully different read for me. So many emotions and unbelievable empathy.
Date published: 2014-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Enchanted This book was one of those, that just blow your mind.....the writing is inventive and "enchanting", describing reality and madness in a unique way.
Date published: 2014-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Enchanted-A Novel Written mostly from the death row inmate's view point. Leaves you guessing who the narrator is right ton the end.
Date published: 2014-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Enchanted This novel is riveting, as you explore the bowels of the criminally insane mind. All I can say horses, run.
Date published: 2014-06-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for me Didn't enjoy the writing style.
Date published: 2014-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Take Me Where I Need to Be... I read this book with great anticipation, and it did not disappoint. It is poetic and spellbinding. Deep and profound. When I finished, all I could do was sit in silence, contemplating the true beauty of what I had just read. I read this book in 2 days, while the kids were asleep. Many times with books, I am able to pick one up and read while they play or watch movies, able to keep one eye on them, and the other on the book. This book I felt deserved more than that. As much as I wanted to pick it up during the day, I knew that I needed to be fully immersed in this Enchanted world and allow it to scoop me up and take me where I needed to be, and show me what I needed to see.
Date published: 2014-06-01
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 4 out of 5 by from The Enchanted Interesting book to read. Very dark. But allows you to see life on death row.
Date published: 2014-04-26
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 Amazing book! This book is so beautifully written, the characters so unforgettable. A must read.
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 5 out of 5 by from I It was a great book!
Date published: 2014-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The enchanted Excellent read. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2014-03-22
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

Editorial Reviews

The Enchanted is instead a testament to the power of words, of language and symbols to reshape one’s reality, and it is an extraordinarily empathetic look at the sorrows and joys of even the worst aspects of human life.”