Book Reviews

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

18090147[1]“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 magical 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, honor 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. ~Goodreads

Released today, March 4, 2014

I must be honest. This book worried me a bit knowing what I was delving into. I had to get into the right mindset for this one even though I was intrigued and have always had a fascination for psychological profiles of people. Not necessarily murderers on death row who commit heinous crimes, but the inside of the mind and what makes a person do the things they do.

On the surface this story is haunting, deeply disturbing and difficult to wrap your brain around. But the writing is simply beautiful and there is no doubt that Denfeld knows what she is talking about in this fictitious story given her extensive background as a death row investigator herself. The added elements of fantasy and magical realism bring light into a very dark place such as death row.

But what I enjoyed the most was the look into the past of these very disturbed men. Not the torture and neglect that they themselves received but it painted a picture of a whole person rather than focus on the crime that got them committed. Even the investigator named “the lady” had a troubled past (very troubled) and yet she took the route to become somewhat successful and “normal”. Why is that? How can people with similar abusive backgrounds end up differently? It’s the old nature vs. nurture debate that I enjoy picking apart. Spending years working with children with severe behavior disorders and some having horrific upbringings, I often wonder what will become of them. Which path will they choose? Will their troubled past interfere with their future? They are always in my thoughts when I look at my own children as they grow and mature.

This book has been buzzed about for some time, popping up on numerous “books not to miss” lists. Don’t be turned off by the subject matter, however dark it is. Rather look to this book to gain some insight into the human spirit, redemption, forgiveness, understanding and most importantly what ALL humans need, love.

*Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins Publishers for this advanced uncorrected e-proof. I was not compensated or required to review this book.

You can learn more about Rene Denfeld, this book and other events at her site here.

2 thoughts on “The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

  1. I have been hearing great things about this book, and in fact have had an ARC in a pile for months — but I was nervous about the subject matter. Thanks for the reassurance — I’m going to be brave and delve in.

    • Not going to lie-it’s heavy and dark and touches on very disturbing topics. But I have always been one of those people who wonder about the “person” behind the terror. Not excused for their actions but they must have been decent at one time. Anyway, have a feel good book waiting in the wings when you are done 🙂

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