Title: The Enchanted
Author: Rene Denfield
Read harder Challenge: No
Star Review: ♥♥♥♥♥ /5
Why: This book was lovely magical realism at its finest. I felt transported, and at the end of the book, I felt changed. I listened to this on audiobook, his stop, and bought a print copy to share with friends. I really feel this book.
This is the story of men on death row, and the lives that radiate from that seemingly-forsaken place. The narrator, referred to as Arden at points in the story, watches but does not speak. Alternately, we see what life is like for a newly-arrived boy only serving a bit of time; for York, who refuses to fight on appeal to save his own life; for a variety of prison staff in this corrupt, vividly disgusting hellhole; and for Arden, the Lady whose job it is to save York, and the Fallen Priest. Incidentally, the Lady shares her line of work – indigent defense of death row inmates) with the author.
All characters deal with more than their fair share of problems in their lifetime, but the title refers to an altogether unique and magical setting – the prison itself is alive. Is in enchanted, and the narrator often refers to it as “This enchanted place.” No enchanted place could be more heartbreaking. I don’t want to share the stories of abuse, mental illness, and depravity that are contained in these pages, because you must read them yourself to understand how deeply everyone has been let down in this story. The setting will help you to understand, as it is its own character.
This books is about death row and prison: the corruption, the politics, and mental health issues. This book is about humanity: love, vulnerability, and the act of moving on or moving forward or moving beyond. Its ending, while perhaps not happy, is one of the few truly beautiful endings I’ve come across in a while.
I will unreservedly recommend this book to all.