'The Enchanted' will take you to a magic place

Book Review:"The Enchanted" by Rene Denfield (Harper Collins Publishers)

I've never read a book anything like "The Enchanted," by Rene Denfeld. I picked up the book with some hesitation. Did I want to read a book filled with magic that was narrated by someone on death row in an ancient prison? How was I supposed I believe such a thing? Still, there were these golden horses on the cover - and I could always put it down again, couldn't I? Well the truth is that I could not put the book down at all and indeed savored every word. I loved every single place this amazing work took me, the grim darkness as much as the light.

"This is an enchanted place," the narrator tells us on page one about the ancient prison, an enchantment that only he sees. He also sees each cinder block, the "cloudy medical vines" that bring about the end, and the rusted cans that hid the ashes of men. But he is most excited and in tune with "the golden horses running deep beneath the earth," and aware of the small men with hammers and the terrible flibber-gibbits down around the cremation ovens after each death.

In case you think that his narration equals only the mind wandering of a schizophrenic - as I had been afraid it would be - please be assured that it is anything but that. Through the lens of the narrator's magic eyes, we are treated to many stories, a powerful and enthralling central story, arcing over many sub-plots. There is the fallen priest and the lady who sees into lives and saves them. There is the painful story of the white-haired boy, much abused but finally triumphant. Yes, many stories and many explorations of the horror and the wonder of life as seen by this unforgettable narrator who is headed for a transcendence that he shares with all of us who partake of his words in the magic kingdom of enchantment.

- Reviewed by Susan Lang, Peregrine Book Company event coordinator