Monday, February 16, 2015

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

"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 magical 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, honor and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.

This insomniac's opinion: 

I've spent nearly two days ruminating on this review after turning the last page of Rene Denfeld's incredible novel. It is deeply, deeply dark. Dark enough that maybe not every reader would be comfortable going into this place of damp bleakness, even if it is a place of enchantment.

As a pediatric public health nurse I am comfortable with the darkness in a way that not everyone can understand. I feel an immediate kinship with those that do understand and I knew immediately that Ms. Denfield was one of those kindred souls. 

This book is not long, and yet the reader is lost into this world and, when spit out the other side, feels changed in an intangible way. Ms. Denfield writes with a mystical lyricism that transcends the darkness.

This book tacked a gritty subject matter-death row and the crimes that have been committed by those living there- yet the author has not sugar-coated the novel to suit the palates of bland-tongued readers.  The characters are deeply complex. It was a stark reminder of the things in humanity that go unspoken-the acrid, grinding, clawing needs that rise to the surface to matter how firmly they are pushed down. Yet, even as the crimes of these men were told, the reader feels compassion bubbling up within her. It stirred a myriad of feelings within me.

And so, after the last page was turned, I sat with the novel. Invited it to tea as I pondered my feelings about it. The words, while magical, were ever so bleak and cold altogether. They left a bitter, melancholy dust on my lips. I was unsure if I wanted to spit it away or savor the taste. So, I read it again and decided upon the savoring. For even bitterness, if complex enough, is worth savoring.

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes! In fact, set aside two nights in case you feel the need to reread immediately. The most beautiful writing that I have read in some time.

Rating: 10 stars, out of five. Seriously, it was like nothing else that I have ever read. I cannot recommend it enough.

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