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The Enchanted

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The Enchanted Cover

ISBN13: 9780062285508
ISBN10: 0062285505
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

Rene Denfeld's The Enchanted is a book like no other. Set in a crumbling prison, the characters are the prisoners on death row, the grieving warden, the corrupt guard, the lady trying to stay the execution, the fallen priest, the white-haired boy, the horrified mother, and the inside drug lords. Almost no one has a name, and of those that do, their names seem to cause some inner shudder; they are so evil. But, not completely. Underneath their crimes are crimes against them; and the sorrow and pain circle around and around.

The prison is enchanted with the golden horses who run on a rampage underneath the prison; molten flames flying off their manes. Yet, also enchanting it are the horrible flibber gibbets who gobble up the heat of the newly dead and the terrifying small men with tiny hammers in the wall. Beauty and horror walk hand-in-hand here.

The Enchanted is narrated by a nameless, omniscient death row inmate, who sees far and wide and deep as well. Through him we learn the stories that led the inmates to prison, as well as the unbearable reality that is prison. "The cell coagulates with an acrid smell that the boy doesn't know but instantly recognizes. It is the smell of terror, and it is coming from him. Something like barbed wire constricts his heart, and it is impossible to breathe. He knows now why he is here."

The Enchanted is absolutely chilling, yet with Denfeld's spare, quiet prose, it is one of the most gorgeous and stunning things I have ever read. Living in this book for a week, I felt broken open, shattered, and crushed by both the unspeakable horror and the unbelievable beauty. The Enchanted is ripe with themes on crime, punishment, survival, and love; Denfeld will break your heart, but she will also knit it back together for you. If you only read one book this year, make it this one.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

An absolutely stunning first novel, Denfeld's exquisite, mythically flavored prose propels us through the difficult terrain of prison life. The lady, the priest, a mysterious unnamed prisoner, and a gently rotting stone prison share a common existence, yet nothing about them is common. These characters will haunt you long after the last page has been turned.
Recommended by Mary Jo, Powells.com

I finished The Enchanted in tears. My boyfriend looked over at me from the opposite end of the couch, asked what was wrong, and all I could say in response was, "That was such a beautiful book."
Recommended by Tove, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

“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

Review:

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

Review:

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....So dark yet so exquisite.” Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus

Review:

The Enchanted is unlike anything I've ever read....Contagious and seductive. The reader comes to see through Denfeld's strange lens, and to savor the richness of the view long after the final page has turned.” Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love

Review:

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

Review:

“Evocative....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

Synopsis:

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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About the Author

Rene Denfeld is an author, journalist, and a death penalty investigator. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and is the author of four books, including the international bestseller The New Victorians: A Young Woman's Challenge to the Old Feminist Order.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

The Loopy Librarian, August 4, 2014 (view all comments by The Loopy Librarian)
So much depth packed into less than 300 pages; a book unlike anything I’ve ever read. I was immediately enraptured by the narrator’s voice, visions and observations. The imagery is ripe for the imagination, and the reader quickly becomes consumed by the “enchanted” place. Chilling, gut-wrenching, gripping, and yet, somehow, inexplicably full of wonder. Both horrifying and hopeful. Poetic. Weaves a spell over the reader that transcends the story, the characters, and the death row setting to a place that is, well, enchanted.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
The Lost Entwife, March 16, 2014 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
The Enchanted simply blew me away. Seriously, folks, since when does a book about death row completely knock someone down, because that's what happened to me with this one. I went into it thinking there would be a whole Green Mile vibe and walked away feeling as if I'd been suckerpunched. Not only did this book completely absorb me, it made me reconsider everything I thought I knew about pre-judging a person.

The Enchanted is part real-life and part-fairytale, but a fairytale of the darker variety. We are introduced to a nameless narrator, a man who is in a cell waiting for his death. He is a voracious reader and, as the story unfolds, while he doesn't reveal all of what he's done there, it gets to the point where it doesn't even matter anymore. Who we do get to really know, though, are several other characters whose lives unfold in front of that one prisoner, in a sense.

The Enchanted is a place where strange things happen. There is a lot of symbolism in this book and it's impossible to catch it and understand it all on the first read-through. But it doesn't matter, because the stories being told about the lives of those in the book are enough to carry momentum until the end of the book comes - and it does come quite suddenly.

I think that this is a book that would touch anyone who decided to pick it up and give it a shot. It's unusual, but not so strange that it would put off a casual reader. If anything, it'll make that casual reader more interested in the fate of the narrator and the other prison guards, inmates, priests, and investigators. The Enchanted is a very profound, elegant look at a life that isn't really a life at all. And whose fault is that?
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780062285508
Author:
Denfeld, Rene
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20140304
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 x 0.89 in 22.8 oz

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The Enchanted Used Hardcover
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$17.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Harper - English 9780062285508 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Rene Denfeld's The Enchanted is a book like no other. Set in a crumbling prison, the characters are the prisoners on death row, the grieving warden, the corrupt guard, the lady trying to stay the execution, the fallen priest, the white-haired boy, the horrified mother, and the inside drug lords. Almost no one has a name, and of those that do, their names seem to cause some inner shudder; they are so evil. But, not completely. Underneath their crimes are crimes against them; and the sorrow and pain circle around and around.

The prison is enchanted with the golden horses who run on a rampage underneath the prison; molten flames flying off their manes. Yet, also enchanting it are the horrible flibber gibbets who gobble up the heat of the newly dead and the terrifying small men with tiny hammers in the wall. Beauty and horror walk hand-in-hand here.

The Enchanted is narrated by a nameless, omniscient death row inmate, who sees far and wide and deep as well. Through him we learn the stories that led the inmates to prison, as well as the unbearable reality that is prison. "The cell coagulates with an acrid smell that the boy doesn't know but instantly recognizes. It is the smell of terror, and it is coming from him. Something like barbed wire constricts his heart, and it is impossible to breathe. He knows now why he is here."

The Enchanted is absolutely chilling, yet with Denfeld's spare, quiet prose, it is one of the most gorgeous and stunning things I have ever read. Living in this book for a week, I felt broken open, shattered, and crushed by both the unspeakable horror and the unbelievable beauty. The Enchanted is ripe with themes on crime, punishment, survival, and love; Denfeld will break your heart, but she will also knit it back together for you. If you only read one book this year, make it this one.

"Staff Pick" by ,

An absolutely stunning first novel, Denfeld's exquisite, mythically flavored prose propels us through the difficult terrain of prison life. The lady, the priest, a mysterious unnamed prisoner, and a gently rotting stone prison share a common existence, yet nothing about them is common. These characters will haunt you long after the last page has been turned.

"Staff Pick" by ,

I finished The Enchanted in tears. My boyfriend looked over at me from the opposite end of the couch, asked what was wrong, and all I could say in response was, "That was such a beautiful book."

"Review" by , “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.”
"Review" by , “A striking one-of-a-kind prison novel...[with] rich, haunting prose....A stunning first novel from an already accomplished writer.”
"Review" by , 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....So dark yet so exquisite.”
"Review" by , The Enchanted is unlike anything I've ever read....Contagious and seductive. The reader comes to see through Denfeld's strange lens, and to savor the richness of the view long after the final page has turned.”
"Review" by , “[An] impressive debut....Read this magical book, and prepare to be spellbound.”
"Review" by , “Evocative....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.”
"Synopsis" by , 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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