“York knows the truth doesn’t matter in here. 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.”
“I would think for hours how strange it was that some parts of words are silent, just like some parts of our lives. Did the people who wrote the dictionaries decide to mirror language to our lives, or did it just happen that way?”
“She thinks about how sad it is that we remember the killers and not their victims. What if the world forgot Hitler and remembered all the names of his victims? What if we immortalized the victims?”
“… if there are things inside of us too tiny to see, might there be things outside of us too big to believe?”
What caught my attention about The Enchanted, was when I read the publisher’s synopsis, stating that it was Alice Sebold meets Stephen King. I was intrigued; how is that even possible? Well, it is possible. Never have I read a more beautifully written book about such a dark and deeply controversial topic: death row. I was moved, and could not put it down. Seriously, I even cooked dinner with one hand and read this in the other. In fact, I frequently read to my partner at night as it helps him fall asleep. This book had the opposite effect, and we were up until the wee hours of the morning with him begging me to read more.
The story is written from the perspective of one of the death row inmates, as he watches and reflects on his fellow prisoners, and the maximum security stone prison that houses them. He loves to read, and the safety that the pages of his books bring him is what allows him to exist in such a brutal environment. He is mute (or is he?), and thus has developed such an incredible ability to listen and observe that he can almost see through people, into the deepest parts of their souls.
As a fact investigator in death row penalty cases, Rene Denfeld seems especially qualified to write such a beautifully haunting novel on the conditions of prison, the men patiently waiting for their last meal, and what it was they did to get there in the first place. At times I felt like cringing at the difficult subject matter, but the beauty of its prose and the authenticity of its characters made this novel possibly my favorite book of 2014 thus far. This book reminds us that we are all human, and that often, the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. This is a story that feeds the soul.
I felt this one in my gut; I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Until next time,