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The Enchanted

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  19,627 ratings  ·  3,654 reviews
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 hi
Hardcover, 233 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Harper
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Sandy Bergeson It was definitely the earthquakes in real life but metaphorically I think it was the foreboding of unrest and things turning topsy turvy...something w…moreIt was definitely the earthquakes in real life but metaphorically I think it was the foreboding of unrest and things turning topsy turvy...something wicked this way comes...which in a way equated to freedom (the freedom of wild horses that can't be tamed and run wild).(less)
Joshua Yamamoto I e-mailed the Author and she said that she believed there were little men in the walls of her home when she was growing up. It could be rats in the w…moreI e-mailed the Author and she said that she believed there were little men in the walls of her home when she was growing up. It could be rats in the walls or something of that nature, or just the creaks and groans of old building, but the little men are referring to what she thought of noises in the wall as a child. Hope that helps!(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,627 ratings  ·  3,654 reviews

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Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book just kicked me in the emotions.
Will Byrnes
What matters in prison is not who you are but what you want to become. This is the place of true imagination.
Rene Denfeld, the author of The Enchanted, has the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet. She has written a novel about identity, understanding, the roots of crime, the reality of prison life, the possibility for redemption, and the ability of people to use imagination to rise beyond the purely material to the transcendent.

There are three primary and several very strongly written s
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: free-from-work
this is a grim and haunting story that takes place in a crumbling, but still occupied, prison. the narrative is shot through with threads of magical realism which ordinarily would be employed as contrast to lessen the horror of the surroundings, but here these flourishes frequently intensify the bleakness.

i'm going to refrain from talking about the book's overall message because death penalty stuff always brings out the cranks on both sides of the issue, and ain't nobody got time for that. but
Mar 21, 2022 rated it really liked it
I am 9 reviews behind schedule, arghh. I realized Today that 2 months have passed since I read this novel and promised to return with a review. Life got in the way but I finally have the time to write a few words. The downside to taking too much time to write a review is that my memory of the feelings I had for this novel started to fade so I will be downgrading my rating a bit. It seems I‘ve been overexcited right after I finished.

The novel is about an old maximum-security death row prison, “a
Been thinking about this book a lot since I read it. Truly exceptional. And definitely in my top ten ever....

This is truly an enchanted book, a wondrous story. I was thinking yesterday when I finished it that it compared with The Road, which made a big impact on me. That this is without a doubt one of the best books I ever read.
It's a sad, gruesome dark story but also, weirdly enough, one of hope and love. And, beautifully written, a poetic style, which is strangly contrasting with the topic of
Emily May
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magic-realism, 2014
“Inside, the lies you tell become the person you become. On the outside, sun and reality shrink people back to their actual size. In here, people grow into their shadows.”

This is a book about monsters. And the stories they have to tell.

Set on death row in a maximum security prison, this book is narrated by a man whose name and crimes we are not told. Through him, we see the lives of men inside the prison - those who long for death, those who would do anything to escape it, those who came to
Wild horses galloping underground. Really? I will hate this. “But it’s not fantasy,” my friend insists. I smile fakely and say without hesitation (like we all do when we know damn well it’s not up our alley), “Sounds good, but I have a bunch of other books I have to read first.” All along I’m thinking, is she crazy? I hate fantasy! And I hate magical realism! No way in hell will I read this. Then she actually buys me the book. Oh shit, how can I get out of it now? I vow to give it a try, remindi ...more
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

The Enchanted is one hell of a debut. Jarring, pithy, and unsettling. The story, conveyed through the eyes of a man on death row, unveils the blurred lines between guilt and innocence. He presents a world both wondrous and filled with nightmares, leading us by the hand to a gut-punch of a conclusion.
He can chat with a man like York, he can even show kindness to a man like Arden, but he knows in his h
Diane S ☔
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-exploration
Many years ago I went to the theater to see a movie called "Dead Man Walking." One of the few movies I have seen that I had not read the book first, I am however, a big Susan Sarandon fan and tried to see all movies in which she took part. Anyway this was an emotionally powerful movie and I knew the other in the theater felt the same way because at the end of the movie there was dead silence, for quite a few seconds and than everyone rose to their feet and clapped. After reading this book I had ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written book about a prison, primarily the death row block and a lady that investigates their cases to try to get them off death row.
There was love in these pages too, you end up caring about all of these characters, even the most horrific, as some of their background stories come to life.
This was an enchanting and atmospheric read.
Elyse Walters
Thank You to the many friends on Goodreads who read this book before me....
especially to 'Doug'. When I read his review yesterday... I said..."That's it, enough already". I picked up the paperback copy which I own - and started reading!
It's MORE than what I expected ... IT REALLY IS *THAT SPECIAL*!!!!!!

When a mute nameless inmate first arrived at the prison ....( we learn he is on death row), he was pretty much illiterate ....but the library became his sanctuary.
"I loved the ways the precious
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“For us, time doesn’t exist. The measurements of life – birth, death, loss, marriage, love, lust, happiness – have no meaning in this dungeon. Time passes here, but it doesn’t count. I could have a clock, but what would the dial tell me? Nothing. When time no longer exists, you don’t care about getting up, you don’t think about birthdays, you don’t think back to people you lost. You float free in the universe, untethered to anyone or anything. Your heart is empty, and because your heart is empty ...more
Call me crazy, but when I see golden horses in bars with a title like this, I think "carousel."

When I get "magical realism that takes place on the death row of a prison, narrated by an inmate who can see the fantastical creatures within its walls, describing the relationship between an investigator and a priest, a warden and a convict, a man on death row who is ready to die and the people who have let him go already," I am surprised, yes.

But very, very pleasantly surprised.

I expected a little Mo
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was a perfect mix of everything I love.

First, I love prison. Wait, let me start over...

First, I love stories about institutions like this. Two of my favorite movies are "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Shawshank Redemption". I also toured Alcatraz while in San Francisco last year. I'm not really sure what that says about me, but there is probably some deeper psychological meaning in there somewhere. Anyway, I love these types of stories. This felt so real, and I loved how it
Debbie "DJ"
What an extraordinary novel. Actually, I've never read anything like it. It has a fantastical feel to it, yet it is not fantasy as a genre. I'm finding it hard to relate a story that felt as if I was in an enchanted place, and yet is a story of prison, death, death row, a woman who comes to exchange death for life terms, and a priest who is disgraced. This prison is no ordinary prison though, it was built long, long ago, and has the feel of an ancient castle.

The first sentence begins, "This is a
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Like many people I had been putting off reading this book largely because I don't really go for depressing literature and what could be more depressing than a story set on Death Row. Well I was so, so wrong. This is an amazing book, beautifully written and not a bit depressing even though it is often sad. If that sounds like a contradiction then read it for yourself and you will understand.
The narrator is an inmate awaiting his execution and his name and his crime are kept as a mystery until th
Larry H
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was not at all what I expected, and it utterly blew me away.

"This is an enchanted place. Others don't see it but I do."

When you think enchanted places, the last thing that comes to mind is an ancient prison, but that is where this beautiful book takes place. It is narrated by a prisoner on death row, where the prisoners are kept in an underground dungeon of sorts. The narrator cannot speak, but he sees and envisions incredible things—golden horses who run hard beneath the prison follow
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Enchanted is not your traditional fairy tale. It is deep, dark and disturbing, and takes place on death row. It's what is created to sustain an inmate's sanity and survival. It's a glimpse into the human side of monsters who have done unthinkable horrors to others. It's a story of hope even as death waits. This is a read I found myself putting down frequently to contemplate. Denfeld manages to do the unthinkable: have us feel compassion for men we consider evil. 5 stars and a must read. ...more
Reread. My heart is full and aching.


Loved, loved, loved this book.

The main premise of this story is about an inmate who's on death row. The story is told through his eyes. We are introduced to other characters as well and we get their perspectives and hear their stories and it all starts to interconnect.

This book was just powerful and beautifully written, dark, atmospheric, captivating and completely enchanting. I was given an insight into the prison system and about those on death r
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. 2.5 Stars

Let me start my review by saying I wanted very badly to love this book like all my friends on Goodreads that have read it and have been seduced by it. To them I say.............I am Jealous of you all.
I pre ordered my copy in Hardback as this was going to be one of those books that would not be borrowed under any circumstances and would remain on my book shelf for many years to come.

But unfortunately I wasn't enchanted or impressed by it and was l
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I've ever read a book with so many broken people. I think that some readers are going to say that the author is promoting propaganda but I think she was sharing with us a different take on humanity. She shares with us a side to these individuals that we could not possibly think are human. It's not promoting crimes without punishment but to maybe take a step back to see why someone commits such unspeakable crimes. The book spoke to me about a broken world that exists with real evil ...more
Samra Yusuf
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The world we live in, have many worlds within, worlds within worlds, different than ours, the world of less-humans, where to live has an entirely disparate impression than what we think it to be. Where, to live is a curse and to die a luxury, where time ceases to breathe, and hopes die like the last flicker of fragile flame, the world of faceless shadows who are numbered and never named, where you only hear the melody of clinking shackles and of heart shattering screams, of silenced shouts. The ...more
Cathrine ☯️
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“ Maybe we can stop men like me from happening. The lady has a gift, and I hope she keeps using it. It is the gift of understanding men like me.”

This book is compelling, haunting, mesmerizing, edgy, uncomfortable, unforgettable. I feel the need to find a Thesaurus to find words adequate enough to describe it. It immerses the reader in the pain of others causing one to rethink some ground rules you may have set for the limits of your compassion and does so with beautiful writing and pacing. Thi
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had not previously heard of The Enchanted before seeing it on a book club wall. I was interested, but not all that much, right? I really wasn’t expecting it to be this good.

Before reading, I had barely glanced at the jacket description. I do that sometimes because I just don’t want to know. Therefore, I had this idea going in that the building itself, housing the prisoners, was the “enchanted”, and hence the reason for the title. I figured we had a fantasy here of some sort. Well, I was wrong.
Jennifer Masterson
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it
I am late to the party on this book and I'm going to be the odd one out on "The Enchanted". Most people loved it but sadly not me. It is original and beautifully written but so so so dark that it didn't work for me. The magical realism with the subject matter I struggled with.

Don't take my word for it. Try It! It's a case of it's me not the book.
Every once in a great while, a book enters my life and quick like ivy, its words and images rise and twist around my imagination and intellect. Rene Denfeld's extraordinary debut The Enchanted is one such book. I feel compelled to push it into everyone's hands, saying, "You must read this. You simply must." It's been nearly two years since the last time I read something that made me ache to shout it from the rooftops--another debut by an Oregon writer: Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist. Yet, these ...more
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking saga inside a decrepit prison

This is a depiction of what life is like inside prison walls from the viewpoint of a killer on death row. He, the murderer, has built up a fantasy of mythical creatures to enhance and mitigate the horror that surrounds him, including vicious prisoners and prison guards. Everything about his life is miserable, the dank, lice-ridden cell, the disgusting food, little more than slop, and his own memories of his despicable crime.

This is written beautifully,
"Back so long ago, when they built this enchanted place, they killed men in three ways: They waited for them to die, they worked them to death, and they hanged them.

Not much has changed. Instead of working men to death, there is a slow starvation of the body and soul. And instead of rope, they use a machine."

"This is an enchanted place. Others don't see it, but I do."
Publisher's synopsis
The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who find
Diane Barnes
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"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."

This is the saddest, hardest book I have ever read. There are no characters here who have not been horribly damaged by their childhood, or escaping that, by their time in prison. They are on death row for doing unspeakable, gruesome crimes. They deserve to be there. But the language and sty
Angela M (On a little break)

I can't finish this book. Having lost a loved one , a victim of a robbery , it's too difficult for me to sympathize with these prisoners, no matter how beautiful the language or the message . I should have trusted my intuition that this was not going to be for me.
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Rene Denfeld is the bestselling author of THE CHILD FINDER, THE ENCHANTED and thee THE BUTTERFLY GIRL, which Margaret Atwood raved on twitter is "a heartbreaking, finger-gnawing, yet ultimately hopeful novel."

Rene's poetic fiction has won numerous awards including the French Prix, an ALA Medal for Excellence and an IMPAC listing. Rene works as an investigator, including exonerating innocents from

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