Top Shelf in March: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Reviewed by Jessica, Gifts Inventory Manager & Book Evangelist
I consider books my religion. Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted is an awakening, a spiritual cleansing. This is a piece of work so bold, beautiful and dark that it will wrap its maw right around your heart.
I have never come across a book quite like this one before. The Enchanted is a story as dark and ridden with despair as it is beautiful and hopeful. Told by an anonymous inmate on death row, it allows us to peek through a keyhole into the human soul. The narrator’s ability to portray the prison as an enchanted place will alone plant a seed of awe in you. The story revolves around York, a death row inmate whose execution day is rapidly approaching. He’s appointed a public defender who is only referred to as The Lady. York refuses his right to a public defender, claiming he is ready for death. Plagued by the curious nature of his request and her own troubled past, The Lady begins to dig into York’s history.
“ No matter what they did, they can see the magic. I think your God would understand that . He may send them to the fires of hell, but he would understand that their eyes can be the same as ours.”
The Lady is one of my favorite characters because of her sordid past and her ability to relate to the prisoners’ violent souls. She relates to them because of her own dysfunctional upbringing and because she understands that if she let her own demons take over, she could be in a similar place as the death row inmates. As a result, The Lady wants the inmates to be given life sentences instead of being put to death.
The characters in The Enchanted are so beautifully flawed and wonderfully constructed that they will stick with you for a long time after finishing this incredible literary work. I would love to talk more about them, especially the narrator, but in doing so, I would take away some of the magic that lies in discovering these beautifully dark people. The brilliance of The Enchanted is in the beauty of the characters’ sins and their attempts to rectify the wrongs done to them which could result in a fatal correction leading them to death row, or to them helping those in similar darkness.
There have been very few books I’ve reread. However, The Enchanted is one I have already read through thrice. It is a book I want to bring everywhere with me, one that I want to cradle near my heart forever. This book will change you. Bravo to Rene Denfeld. The Enchanted is pure. It’s fresh and unlike anything out in the literary world.
Copies of The Enchanted are available on our shelves March 4. You can reserve a copy now via bookpeople.com.