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The Enchanted

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  15,546 Ratings  ·  3,006 Reviews
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
...more
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…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…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)

Community Reviews

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Regan
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 se
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karen
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
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Annet
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
...more
Hannah Greendale
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 heart
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Emily May
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magical-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 p
...more
Debbie
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
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
Karen
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
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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
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Justin
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
...more
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
...more
Phrynne
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
...more
Samra Yusuf
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Samra by: Waqas Mhd
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
Laura
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
Jen
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.
Cathrine ☯️
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
5★
“ 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
...more
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.
Dem
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Dem by: Diane and Lynda
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
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Lynda
"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 finds es
...more
Julie Christine
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
Hirdesh
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great one !
"Sometimes, when reading a book, I would think of the other people who might have touched it
before it was donated. A nice woman who lay down with her baby for a nap might have held the book...........

Book possess theme somewhat like SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, But quite peculiar in its own way.
So many Changes have taken place which changes from The enchanted to Liberal(some sort of) one.
I liked the way writer initiated and went through in last chapter.
It also possess philosophical touche at
...more
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
...more
Perry
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Siren Song for Death Row Sicko [orig. revw. 5/18/16]

I was certainly skeptical when recommended this book given its death row/prison setting. I quickly got past my reservation when I read such gorgeous writing and incredibly imaginative storytelling from inside the mental thought processes of an irreparably damaged soul who is often back in childhood before he was brutally robbed of innocence, dignity and any chance at normalcy.

While I've mentioned Ms. Denfeld's unique talent for poetic prose, h
...more
Bam
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A surprisingly beautiful book set in one of the most depressing places in modern society--prison's death row.

The narrator is a mute inmate, awaiting his date with death in the 'dungeon' deep under ground. Perhaps because of his silence, he has an almost uncanny awareness about everything and everyone around him. He considers the prison to be an enchanted place and can hear things in the walls (little men with hammers?), golden horses galloping underground (earthquakes?), and flibber-gibbets who
...more
Carol
The Enchanted is a dark and gloomy heartbreaking tale with just enough hope and magic to bring the reader back to the light, but not a book I would read again.

It is a story about the ugliness of prison life on Death Row, of living life in an evil underground dungeon. It is about black-shirted execution squads and corrupt guards who order young men in general population to the rape shed for personal gain, then call them used, broken and throwaways to break their spirit of any hope. It is about su

...more
Cheri
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jeff Giles
Recommended to Cheri by: Will Byrnes
“The books helped me see that truth is not in the touch of the stone but in what the stone tells you. And the stones tell me so much. But if I get some things wrong, then please forgive me. This place is too enchanted to let the story go untold…”

Rene Denfeld's magical, beautiful book is unlike anything I have read before. It felt almost like being in a trance, her writing is just mesmerizing, and even though much of the book is dark and occasionally heartbreakingly unpleasant, her writing is so
...more
Matthew
I am kind of embarrassed - I really thought this was going to be a fantasy novel. I try to avoid reading the synopsis of books so that I am surprised - thus, I judged this book by its cover and it's name.

So, lemme tell you - this is not a fantasy novel! I would say that it is a cross between The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. But, not quite as good.

I liked the story okay, but I am not sure I got what the author was trying to do with the way she wrote it. At times, I had trouble figuri
...more
Lawyer
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those capable of looking at the meanness of the world
Recommended to Lawyer by: Lynda
The Enchanted: Living in Darkness

Rene Denfeld has written a compelling novel regarding the moral question of capital punishment in her novel The Enchanted. Denfeld is an author who writes what she knows. She is a death penalty investigator who works on cases of the condemned, reviewing their cases to assess whether an inmate's sentence was properly imposed. Her findings may lead to a new trial for her clients. Or an inmate's conviction may be upheld and the ultimate punishment may be imposed.

Not
...more
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965 followers
Rene Denfeld is the bestselling author of THE ENCHANTED and THE CHILD FINDER. Her lyrical, poetic fiction has won numerous awards including the prestigious French Prix, an ALA Medal for Excellence and an IMPAC listing. In addition to writing, Rene works as a licensed investigator. She has worked hundreds of cases, including exonerating innocents from prison and helping sex trafficking victims. She ...more
More about Rene Denfeld

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“The truth is, clocks don’t tell time. Time is measured in meaning.” 145 likes
“I would think for hours how strange it was that some parts of words are silent, just like some parts of our lives. Did the people who wrote the dictionaries decide to mirror language to our lives, or did it just happen that way?” 86 likes
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