I love a good mystery, but most of the books I read don’t actually feature convicts as characters. When I was making the list for this feature, I had a specific book in mind for this prompt. I hope that it isn’t too difficult for anyone else who might want to try this challenge.
I was initially drawn to The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld because of the cover, and I am so glad that I took the time to read it. I found the unique narrator, a convict who never actually leaves his cell but who is written as an omniscient watcher, a welcome change from the norm. He is only tangentially related to the overall plot, yet sees all, which made this a very new and interesting read for me.
Synopsis: 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.
I think the author made each of the characters as relatable and engaging as possible to really make you think about what drives a person to commit a crime. The interviewer is non-judgmental, and you are expected to come to the book with an open mind. She is tasked with the difficult job of searching 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, honour and corruption.
“You can tell me anything, her eyes say, because I will see the beauty in everything you say.”Rene Denfeld, The Enchanted
I don’t usually read fiction of this style, but I did I found myself loving the unreliable narrator. I was so curious about who he was, what the golden horses really were, and how the whole plot was going to tie together, that I just flew through this book. This book was so intriguing and beautifully written that I have found myself considering it an all-time favourite.
Have you ever read a book featuring a convict? Tell me what it is so I can check it out!
The Bookish ABC is a bi-weekly challenge set by the Literary Counsellor to explore the different character tropes that show up in many books. Every other Sunday is a new post, which might feature one single book, or many different ones. Check HERE for a full list of upcoming topics.