The Enchanted, Denfeld’s debut work of fiction, is a powerful story, devastating and hauntingly beautiful. Golden horses run under the stone foundation of the old prison, their eyes wild, manes flowing, molten heat emanating from their bodies as they run. An inmate on death row leads the reader into the world of fantasy only he sees and the stark, violent reality of prison life. He watches as an unnamed lady researches the lives of killers sentenced to die, finding clues in their backgrounds that might grant them the leniency of life in prison over death. The secrets she holds close permit her an uncanny understanding of the natures of her clients. A fallen priest comforts the inmates and watches the lady, wondering if she might possess redemption for him.— Deon Stonehouse
For the narrator locked inside an ancient prison, waiting for death, life is full of magic, from the golden horses that stampede underground to the tiny men who hammer away inside the stone walls. That the enchanted place is a death row matters less to him than the people he watches from the bars of his cage: the lady, an investigator hired to help the men escape execution; the fallen priest, brought by shame to work the row; and the kindly warden, who ushers men to death.
As the lady digs deep into the past of one of the men on the row, she finds secrets that ring chillingly familiar, and begins a journey that will bring all of them to unexpected salvation.
Guilt and innocence collide in this story of the beauty that can exist in the midst of despair. A luminous novel about redemption, the poetry that can be found in the unfathomable, and the human capacity to transcend even the most nightmarish reality, The Enchanted is a new classic.
About the Author
Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, licensed investigator, and therapeutic foster mother. She is the author of the novels The Child Finder and The Enchanted. She has also written for the New York Times Magazine, The Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
“A striking one-of-a-kind prison novel. . . . [with] rich, haunting prose . . . A stunning first novel from an already accomplished writer.”
— Publishers Weekly
“[An] impressive debut. . . . Read this magical book, and prepare to be spellbound.”
— Library Journal (starred 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
“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
“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
“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.”
“The Enchanted explores the complexities of many crucial issues, including how we treat our children and the vulnerable and the consequences of our actions. It also makes us ask whether our personal behavior, social policies, and the justice system perpetuate more pain than otherwise for humanity.”
— New York Journal of Books
“If you enjoy mystery and suspense as well as a bit of magic and horror you will find it all here. The story is enthralling and keeps you reading far into the night.”
— Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“The Enchanted is instead a testament to the power of words, of language and symbols to reshape one’s reality, and it is an extraordinarily empathetic look at the sorrows and joys of even the worst aspects of human life.”
— The Oregonian