“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.
Beautiful and transcendent, The Enchanted reminds us of how our humanity connects us all, and how beauty and love exist even amidst the most nightmarish reality.
First Goodreads reading update, on page 107 of 237: “Wow there is some stuff in there I don’t want to read about. I cringed very apparently in the train this morning. But seriously, its very sad. The narration isnt sad in itself but there is an underlying sadness that shadows everything. I like it though. The writing is beautiful.”
My full review after finishing it: “On enjoyment alone, I think this book would get a 3, but its uniqueness (and the writing) made me feel like it deserved a 4 stars rating. Like I mentionned in my previous status update, this book is very sad. It deals with very dark subjects such as serious crimes, murder, rape (outside AND inside the prison), but also depression, possibly mental illness, abusive parents, messed up childhood… The list goes on. Nothing very gruesome is actually described, but the hints or simple mention of them is enough.
To begin with, I’m usually not a big fan of magical realism and I don’t really like reading in riddles or having to second guess every metaphor to understand what it refers too. But there was enough structure and “realistic” elements in this story for me to easily understand what was going on even through the “magical” parts. I actually really believe that the magical parts (golden horses, little hammer men, flibber-gibblets) were only the mental representations Arden (the narrator and one of the death-row inmates) had for different real things that were never mentionned. Maybe not either, its hard to say.
The thing that threw me off the most was the narration. Arden isn’t who the story’s about and the book starts with the first person narration from him and also his observation of the people around him (I.. He…) but from one paragraph to the next you jump from his perspective to a scene involving other characters where he’s not present, but the voice doesn’t change, then it goes back to him, and back elsewhere again, always in the same omniscient voice that knows what everyone is doing and thinking. Is it always him talking? Is it never him?
Other than that, there was not a whole lot going on, but the observation of the characters mentionned, especially the Lady, the Priest, York’s past through his aunt, was probably not meant to be very eventful, more like a thinking process about redemption, forgiveness, responsibility regarding your actions, whether or not doing something bad makes you a bad person, life and death. It doesnt really answer any question, but gets you, the reader, to contemplate the characters motives and decisions. This review is getting very long, I wouldnt recommend it to everybody but if you’re interested by the premise than you should definitely give it a try.”
I’m definitely trying to read more adult fiction this year, I’m currently reading Ready Player One and I have a good list on my TBR. What’s your favorite adult fiction?
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