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The Enchanted [Hardcover]

Rene Denfeld
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 7.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

13 Mar 2014

Even monsters need peace. Even monsters need a person who truly wants to listen - to hear - so that someday we might find the words that are more than boxes. Then maybe we can stop men like me from happening...

A prisoner sits on death row in a maximum security prison. His only escape from his harsh existence is through the words he dreams about, the world he conjures around him using the power of language. For the reality of his world is brutal and stark. He is not named, nor do we know his crime.

But he listens. He listens to the story of York, the prisoner in the cell next to him whose execution date has been set. He hears the lady, an investigator who is piecing together York's past. He watches as the lady falls in love with the priest and wonders if love is still possible here. He sees the corruption and the danger as tensions in 'this enchanted place' build. And he waits.For even monsters have a story . . .

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (13 Mar 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0297870491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297870494
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


THE ENCHANTED wrapped its beautiful and terrible fingers around me from the first page and refused to let go after the last. A wondrous book that finds transcendence in the most unlikely of places, enshrouding horrible things in a gossamer veil of fantasy with a truly unforgettable narrator. So dark yet so exquisite (Erin Morgenstern, author of THE NIGHT CIRCUS)

THE ENCHANTED is unlike anything I've ever read ... A jubilant celebration that explores human darkness with a profound lyric tenderness and not one jot of sentimentality ... contagious and seductive (Katherine Dunn, author of GEEK LOVE)

Rene Denfeld is a genius. In THE ENCHANTED, she has imagined one of the grimmest settings in the world - a dank and filthy death row in a corrupt prison - and given us one of the most beautiful, heart-rending, and riveting novels I have ever read (Donald Ray Pollock, author of THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME)

A striking one-of-a-kind prison novel. The narrator, who is on death row and remains nameless until the book's end, explains that the prison, although a place where "the walls sigh with sadness," is enchanted: golden horses "run deep under the earth," miniature men with miniature hammers hide in the walls, and "flibber-gibbets dance while the oven slowly ticks." The narrator's magical perspective-which is paradoxically necessary, perhaps, to preserve what remains of his sanity-contrasts heartbreakingly with the parallel tale of an investigator, also unnamed, who is tasked with finding details about the past of another death-row inmate, known as York, that will result in his sentence being commuted, even though York has decided he wants to die ... Through the novel's rich, haunting prose, Denfeld, who herself has worked as an investigator in death penalty cases, shines a light on lives led with capital punishment on the schedule. This is a stunning first novel from an already accomplished writer that will leave the reader hoping for more fiction in the author's future. (Publisher's Weekly)

Read this magical book, and prepare to be spellbound (Library Journal)

A dark must-read. (RED MAGAZINE)

An unnamed prisoner looks for salvation amid the shadows of a high-security prison in this eerie, haunting novel by Rene Denfeld, who worked as a Death Row investigator for many years. (MAIL ON SUNDAY)

BOOK OF THE WEEK Weaving horror and suspense alongside magical realism, Denfeld takes the reader on a nightmarish journey that raises important questions about clemency and punishment, death and redemption...Meticulously researched, the novel benefits from the author's first-hand experience. A gripping and learned study of dysfunctional human behaviour. (THE LADY)

This is magical, bleak and unexpectedly compelling. (HARPER'S BAZAAR)

The Enchanted is a compelling, nuanced meditation on the possibility (no more than that) of human redemption, even int he most unlikely circumstances imaginable. (NEW INTERNATIONALIST)

Denfeld is much more interested in the why rather than the is through lyricism Denfeld offers her insight into human nature. Her thesis is that even in this terrible place there is to be found some terrible beauty. (IRISH EXAMINER)

Book Description

A powerful and hauntingly beautiful novel set on death row - like THE GREEN MILE or THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION written by Cormac McCarthy.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite exceptional 13 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I thought this was an exceptionally good book. It is profound, haunting and original and is also extremely gripping and readable.

The story is told by a prisoner on Death Row, and it is a remarkable narrative voice. It is somehow both simple and poetic and gives an exceptionally perceptive portrait of this damaged man and some of the things which formed him. The narrative of the book is extremely atmospheric and almost hallucinatory at times; it is a remarkable portrait of a mind. To give a slight flavour of the book, during a brilliant, haunting passage about what happened to him and the idea of remorse he says, "My soul left me when I was six. It flew away past a flapping curtain over a window. I ran after it, but it never came back. It left me alone on wet stinking mattresses. It left me alone in the choking dark. It took my tongue, my heart and my mind." I found that "I ran after it, but it never came back," quite heartbreaking even in this man who has done terrible things, and the book is full of such things.

The book is beautifully structured and crafted, and prison life is brilliantly evoked. Violence and death are always present although their actual occurrences are almost never described, and Rene Denfield manages to convey a haunting atmosphere of threat and sometimes horror as a result. Only prisoners are named; others are called the lady, the priest, the warden and so on in a subtle inversion of normal perception. The lady is a death penalty investigator whose job it is to discover grounds for mitigation of the death penalty for the inmates whose cases she works on. Denfield is herself a death penalty investigator so she knows this world intimately and gives an insightful, knowledgeable and deeply thought-out picture of the world and its inhabitants.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Mad
This is undoubtedly one of the best books I have read in a while. Not something I would have picked myself, but it hooked me from the very first page.
As a rule I don’t read depressing misery memoirs or prison stories. But “The Enchanted”, although in essence both of these, is very different.
This book moved me and made me think – two of main things I look for in a novel.
It is a story of an inmate on death row told by another, unnamed prisoner. Although it tells of abuse, neglect and crime, it’s not graphic, but it is told with an unusual economy of language and imagery; simplicity of style making it somehow poetic.
As my husband summed it up: “Age 18 certificate subject told in 15 certificate language”.
We read about horrible crimes on “the outside” and atrocities committed in prison, by inmates and guards alike. But there is no judgement or condemnation. There is no simple morality. All people in this story are in a way broken. This makes the book deeply humane.
It brings to mind “Shawshank Redemption” and “Green Mile”, yet it is not simple plagiarism.
I give this book full five stars.

I received this book from the Lovereading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the place of true imagination 14 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"What matters in prison is not who you really are but what you want to become. This is the place of true imagination."

Rene Denfeld's novel, The Enchanted, is just that: enchanted. How else could a novel set in the dank windowless stones of a death row prison block offer up hope and light, freedom and beauty? Words are the answer, of course, and what a conjuror of language Denfeld proves herself to be, as comfortable in spinning the lonely existence of condemned men into lyrical fantasy as she is dealing with the brutality of "life" in a place where "ordinary men can be more dangerous than any others."

It seems odd to describe it as such, but this novel is a love story. At its core is a relationship between "the lady" - a death row investigator tasked with trying to get a prisoner's sentence commuted, and "the priest" - a fallen man who administers the last rights to inmates. They are watched over, it might be said, by our narrator, a mute prisoner who loves books and who waits for the warden to slip the next novel into his cell so that he can lose himself in it. It's the narrator who fills the story with imagination: he sees "secret basement warrens" and "the soft-tufted night birds"; he feels "the golden horses as they run deep under the earth" and watches the "flibber-gibbets dance while the oven slowly ticks."

As the novel unfolds we follow the lady as she uncovers her prisoner's story; we come to learn her own story, and that of the priest; the story of Conroy (a guard), the warden, and of the prison and its deepest workings. There is no place to hide as the dark corners of the human psyche and the cellblock are exposed - it is bleak at times.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A hauntingly different and totally unique piece of storytelling. The Enchanted has a heart of total darkness with it's themes of death row, execution, torture, corruption and a body of people thrown together in the most unspeakably awful conditions. This is Rene Denfeld's tale of how monsters aren't born but created and how those abused early enough in life might reach out in turn and visit their agony upon others. Denfeld is asking, I believe, that we question how we view those people and offers a fascinating insight into her characters to make that judgement incredibly difficult. Although a work of fiction, Denfeld has obviously drawn upon her own experience as a death row investigator to write a novel that's completely authentic and her insight is both dreadful and wonderful. I don't have enough words without appearing glib and false to tell you how highly I rate The Enchanted. The style of writing is lyrical, poetic and, in places, the novel reads like a dark and terrible fairy tale and yet, beneath the overload of bleak reality, there lurks the possibility of love, forgiveness and the possibility of redemption. I read the novel in one day and was just basically awestruck.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This is... Can I use the F ...
This is... Can I use the F word? Because there's no other way describing it. This i f***ing scary. The contrast between the eerie magical narration and the atrocities described -... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ada
4.0 out of 5 stars Different
This felt like quite an unusual and unique book. It's very detailed and descriptive, and it was an unsettling peek into the mind of a death row prisoner. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kirsty
3.0 out of 5 stars plus the book in itself is beautiful with French flaps and deckled...
I was excited to read this book having seen many 5 star reviews on book tube and goodreads, plus the book in itself is beautiful with French flaps and deckled edging. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ms. K. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I loved the book and read it easily in a night. It is intriguing read with interesting and mature themes.
Published 2 months ago by Kate Heinrich - Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars The Enchanted really is quite captivating
A short but perfectly polished novel; The Enchanted is a striking story that is unlike anything that I've read before. How can a dark, desolate, run down prison be enchanted? Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lincs Reader
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
Sadly never got into this book. Well written but story line a bit too depressing and just disappointed after all the great reviews
Published 4 months ago by Cartuxa
5.0 out of 5 stars A gut-wrenching vision of Death Row with a wondrous glimmer of...
First published back in March of 2014, US death penalty investigator and author, Rene Denfeld’s debut novel ‘Enchanted’ followed on from the publication of three similarly themed... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Chris Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
This is Rene Denfeld's debut novel and will be published on 13th March 2014. I'd like to thank everyone at The Lovereading Review Team for the ARC of this book, which I received in... Read more
Published 5 months ago by claire hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, powerful and redemptive
This is a novel written from an original, even unique, perspective: the creative, almost hallucinatory, musings of a death-row prisoner whose crimes are so terrible that they... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Roman Clodia
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceedingly touching
Rene Denfeld has been working as a death penalty investigator for several years. She loves her job spending time with her clients on death row, creating a safe place for them to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by ireadnovels
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