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The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

The Enchanted

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One of the Top 10 books in the Lovereading Readers’ Choice Book of the Year 2014.

One of our Books of the Year 2014.

Once you start, you will find it difficult to put down this compelling and totally captivating novel, so set aside some quality time and take a step into the unknown. The story is understated, yet builds powerfully, drawing you deeper into the dungeon of lost dreams, where there is just the slightest, meagre window of hope. The central characters are all damaged in some way, although many sit on opposite sides of the barbed wire fence. The connections and contrasts throughout the novel should fight against each other and yet with great sensitivity, the author balances this knotty tightrope of challenging emotions.
The Enchanted is a heart-rending and harrowing novel, written with great compassion. The authors career working with death row clients prowls in the back of your mind. While you may suspect the ending, it is so shockingly intimate and arresting, it touches deep inside and leaves you feeling raw, battered and somehow, full of hope.
Let yourself be taken by the hand by the narrator (yes, a monster) and observe with fresh eyes, our world, by one condemned to die. ~ Liz Robinson

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted is one of those books on which a certain head of steam is already building, suggesting that this haunting and disturbing novel is something different from the general run of crime-related novels – and so it proves to be. A prisoner sits on death row in a high-security prison; the reader is not informed of his name. A female investigator is tasked with looking into several grisly crimes, and she never sanctions a prisoner going to their death without a thorough investigation. And the prisoner himself wonders about the nature of his terrifying personality. Unusually for a novel with such a subject, there is a genuine lyricism here, which undercuts the more unsettling aspects of the narrative
~ Barry Forshaw

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Hazel Saegert - 'An absolutely stunning debut novel from the (previously) nonfiction author Rene Denfield, The Enchanted will intrigue you from the very first page.' Read full review >
  • Gary Simkins - 'I’ve been a fan of reading stories of prison life, from King’s Rita Hayworth, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile to Green’s Green River Rising and I found this story thoroughly enjoyable and haunting.' Read full review >
  • Magdalena Vidgen - 'This is undoubtedly one of the best books I have read in a while. Not something I would have picked myself, but it hooked me from the very first page.' Read full review >
  • Claire Hill - 'This beautifully told and haunting debut from Rene Denfeld will immerse you in a dark and violent world, whilst simultaneously pulling at your heartstrings.' Read full review >
  • Sarah Musk - 'An unusual book dealing with a difficult subject.  It is quite harrowing and difficult to read in parts but a book that you will find hard to forget.' Read full review >
  • Judith Griffith - 'A compelling read about the dark bowels of an American prison - so well-written that you just have to keep reading. A great debut novel. Highly recommended!' Read full review >
  • Jennifer Rainbow - 'This a memerising novel that draws you in and grips you tightly. An effortless read with exquisite writing that tells you stories that may affect you but you won't be able to stop.' Read full review >
  • Victoria Sharman - 'This is a fantastic book and if you haven't had a chance yourself to read it then you must.' Read full review >
  • Katie Hoare - 'This excellent read - with wonderful observations and descriptions - shows how a place where there is a lot of men who have done evil things, can have moments of tenderness.' Read full review >
  • Fiona Ellwood - 'A lyrically described picture of a stark and frightening world, with redemption at the end...even a monster has a soul, and a story to be told...Highly recommended.' Read full review >
  • Edel Waugh - 'A Tornado of Emotions! these characters were almost living breathing people as I read, and while I was emotionally invested in what was happening to them my own life blurred around the edges until I finished the last sentence.' Read full review >
  • Phyl Smithson - 'This is a remarkable and incredibly powerful book!  I can only thank Rene Denfeld for writing The Enchanted.' Read full review >
  • Kerry Bridges - 'A brilliant, must read book about the thoughts and feelings of some death row inmates and those who must deal with them.  I loved this book and I highly recommend it!' Read full review >
  • Angela Rhodes - 'It is lyrical, bewitching, and haunting...If a novel should ever be made into a film, then this is it. I think personally it could become a classic.' Read full review >


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 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, enshrouding horrible things in a gossamer veil of fantasy with a truly unforgettable narrator. So dark yet so exquisite' Erin Morgenstern, author of THE NIGHT CIRCUS

'THE ENCHANTED is unlike anything I've ever read ... A jubilant celebration that explores human darkness with a profound lyric tenderness and not one jot of sentimentality ... contagious and seductive' Katherine Dunn, author of GEEK LOVE

'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

About the Author

Rene Denfeld

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, Ms. Denfeld volunteers with at-risk youth and in foster adoption advocacy.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd March 2015


Rene Denfeld

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Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


288 pages


Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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