“A death row inmate, a fallen priest, and the Lady. These nameless characters are central to this dark, enthralling, magical story. Locked in a dungeon cell, the inmate deals with his incarceration by transforming the prison into a wondrous place. The rumblings of the earth become golden horses running below his cell, molten lava flowing from their manes. The Lady works to have the sentences of the condemned commuted to life in prison while the priest is fallen, lost, and desperately in love with her. These characters live and work in a truly enchanted place, and I was sorry to leave them behind when the book was finished.”
— Jessie Martin, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
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.
“A striking one-of-a-kind prison novel. . . . [with] rich, haunting prose . . . A stunning first novel from an already accomplished writer.”
“[An] impressive debut. . . . Read this magical book, and prepare to be spellbound.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”