The Enchanted: A Novel

By Rene Denfeld
Publisher:Harper, (3/4/2014)

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)

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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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Ceci's thoughts on "The Enchanted: A Novel"
updated on:5/10/2014

Everyone is under the spell of the prison in THE ENCHANTED, whether they know it or not. It “freezes” you, says the unnamed narrator, an inmate on death row. Even those who are physically free to come and go from the prison are just as enchanted as the inmates themselves. The only difference among them, perhaps, is that the inmates, with no possibility of freedom, have no hope of “thawing” until they die. The book never resorts to moralizing or advocacy, but you can’t help but reflect on human nature, free will, destiny, and circumstance as you get to know the different characters. The lady, haunted by shame from a neglected and abusive childhood, and sharing an upbringing eerily similar to many of the inmates, now works to save those inmates from death. The defrocked priest seeks atonement for his crimes by sending himself to prison, offering forgiveness to the inmates in their last moments. The warden prefers to be in the prison, which is a solace compared to his life at home as a grieving husband. I was captured by the story of whether these three would find their particular freedoms, and pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful exploration of human nature and redemption, even for the death row inmates. As in life, there are no obvious answers.

Very Unleashable

Book Junky's thoughts on "The Enchanted: A Novel"
updated on:4/30/2014

Now this is a really good book club book! So many topics to discuss - the prison system, corruption, the making of criminals, the social services system, the roll of assault, the roll of imagination, resilience, the power of books, who is sane and who is sick, how are things can be interpreted differently when the names were “lady” vs. Joanna, and so much more. The writing had a rhythm that was just beautiful. There were a few times that left me a little confused, but I was not sure if that was because it had been a few days since I had picked up the book though… (I recommend reading it in a short time span.) Overall, VERY interesting read and perfect for your book club. I found myself being quite moved and horrified by the prison system.


"The Enchanted: A Novel"
By Rene Denfeld

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)

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