Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

From Goodreads:
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.
 Magical realism plus a cover with horses?  You know I'm in.  I was really impressed with the quality of the writing.  It's quite poetic, but not flowery or effusive.  I'd describe it as spare, but I mean that in the best sense of the word.  Nothing over the top or excessive, but at the same time, you get an achingly clear picture.

Entertainment Value
I appreciated this one for the quality of the writing more than I would say I was entertained by it.  Although I enjoyed the story and found myself captivated by it, it's a very difficult story to read.  There's so much violence represented throughout the pages.  Nothing gory or even terribly graphic, but it touches every single person.  Not a single person's life has been untouched by some sort of horrible violence.  There's not much hope to be found in the prison, although rays do shine through.  It was hard to read, but worth it, if you can grab on to those little bursts of hope in the midst of the despair.

It's very literary in quality and not something that I think is an easy read, due to the heaviness of the content.  That said, I think it definitely has value as a work of literature and that those who enjoy the darker side of literary fiction will appreciate it.  It does contain descriptions of violence, including sexual violence, as you would expect in dealing with a prison population, but also in terms of character's histories.  I'd say read it with caution, but definitely give it a try if you can handle the content and like lit fic.

Thanks to TLC for letting me participate in the tour.  Click here to see the rest of the tour stops.


  1. Was this the one you were talking about at book club? I do love magical realism, but I'm not sure if I can handle a heavy book right now.

  2. I love your description of the writing - Denfield sounds like a very talented author.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  3. I'm reading this book right now and am going to see the author on Monday. I can't wait! I'm really fascinated that this is her first book. It seems like some people were just born to write.