The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
What makes a monster? I’m not talking about the fictional kind that live in movies, TV shows and books…but the real life human monsters. Are they born that way or do they become that way over time? How do human beings become the type of monsters that the rest of society fears and detests?
On the surface, The Enchanted is a story about a crumbling , old prison told in the perspective of a death row inmate, who remains unnamed until the end, as he observes the people and lives around him. He knows that he is a monster and that the other inmates around him are all likely monsters too. Most of the characters in this story are nameless; The Lady, The Priest, The White Haired Boy, etc …and that adds to the magic of the story. In fact…the only characters in this book who are referred to by any given name are the monsters themselves.
“This is en enchanted place. Others don’t see it but I do.”
The Enchanted is a book about so many other things once you really dive into it …It’s about how we, as a society, view crime and criminals…it’s about good vs. evil and what, if anything, can turn a good person evil…it’s about the monsters that live among us and how we deal with those monsters… it’s about punishment and the possibility for redemption.
The Lady is an investigator hired by a group of attorneys to dig up long buried information that may stay the execution of some death row inmates. The book begins with her digging into the history of one particular inmate, York. What she finds sheds a shocking light onto the scary truth about what can sometimes make a person become a monster and commit unspeakable acts. All the while the comings and goings of each character are narrated with an almost magical realism and descriptions that can only come from the truly mentally unstable. Hidden secrets of each of the characters as well as the hidden secrets of prison life are highlighted to show just how little we really know about a person.
“Inside, the lies you tell become the person you become. On the outside, sun and reality shrink people back to their actual size. In here, people grow into their shadows.”
This book in no way is propaganda for or against the death penalty at all and I don’t really want to get into debating about capital punishment here. The Enchanted is not about pushing any one particular agenda. However, I do feel that people on both sides of that debate would find this a fascinating book to read. What this story does is make you think about these monsters of society as real people and when we do that, maybe we can begin to understand how these monsters came to be. This book is about the fact that everyone – even monsters – have a story.
“Maybe we can stop men like me from happening. The lady has a gift, and I hope she keeps using it. It is the gift of understanding men like me.”
The Enchanted is a superbly written book with very dark and heavy content. It is full of broken people with some pretty seriously dark pasts so it’s not a light read at all. I finished this book in just over 24 hours and it was one that had me staying up very late to finish. It is quite possibly one of the most moving and thought provoking books I have ever read. It’s is one that will haunt me for a long time after finishing and one that I highly recommend.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars