Tuesday 10 June 2014

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

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... 
A prisoner sits on death row in a maximum security prison. His only escape from his harsh existence is through the words he dreams about, the world he conjures around him using the power of language. For the reality of his world is brutal and stark. He is not named, nor do we know his crime. 
But he listens. He listens to the story of York, the prisoner in the cell next to him whose execution date has been set. He hears the lady, an investigator who is piecing together York's past. He watches as the lady falls in love with the priest and wonders if love is still possible here. 
He sees the corruption and the danger as tensions in 'this enchanted place' build. And he waits. 
For even monsters have a story . . .

The Enchanted is Rene Denfeld's first novel and was published in the UK by Wiedenfeld & Nicolson on 13 March 2014.

A short but perfectly polished novel; The Enchanted is a striking story that is unlike anything that I've read before.  How can a dark, desolate, run down prison be enchanted?  For that is the setting of this story - a place where men wait to die. Men who have committed crimes that are not spoken of, but are clearly horrific. Whilst they wait, kept locked up in the bowels of the prison, rarely glimpsing daylight, our narrator contemplates his fellow prisoners and the people who work in the prison.

The person who enchants him the most is 'the lady'.  She works to try to prevent these men from the ultimate punishment - death. She visits them, she tracks down their families. She visits trailer parks and speaks with people who have little hope and bad memories.

Violence and corruption is rife in this enchanted place. Damaged men guarding more damaged men, with just a couple who try to keep things clean.  A defrocked priest, a young white-haired man, a Warden who mourns his wife - these are the characters that blended together, make up this enchanted place.

Rene Denfeld is an incredibly talented writer. This story is sophisticated and subtle - it is moving and eloquently written.

The Enchanted really is quite captivating ..... in fact, it will enchant you.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Rene Denfeld is a death penalty investigator and the author of three non-fiction books, including the international bestseller The New Victorians.
She has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times magazine.
She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her three children, all adopted from foster care.  In addition to working with death row clients, Denfeld volunteers with at-risk youth and in foster adoption advocacy.
For more information about the author, visit her website www.renedenfeld.com
Follow her author page on Facebook      Follow her on Twitter @ReneDenfeld

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