“This is an enchanted place. Others don’t see it, but I do.”

An award-winning novel set in an ancient stone prison, The Enchanted is 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 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. It is a critical examination of mass incarceration, violence, and the meaning of justice and hope.

The Enchanted is the winner of numerous honors, including the prestigious French Prix Award, an ALA Medal for Excellence in Fiction, a Carnegie listing, and a listing for Dublin International Award. It has been selected for community and campus reads, including All Rochester Reads, and has been adapted to both the London and Edinburgh stage.

“Astonishing” — Margaret Atwood

“Rene Denfeld is a genius. In The Enchanted…she has given us one of the most beautiful, heartrending, and riveting novels I have read.”—Donald Ray Pollock

“A wondrous book that finds transcendence in the most unlikely of places. So dark, yet so exquisite.”—Erin Morgenstern

“A jubilant celebration that explores human darkness with profound lyric tenderness.” — Katherine Dunn.

Click to read an interview with Rene, about The Enchanted

Click here to hear Rene talk about her death penalty work

Click here to read reviews of the stage adaptation of The Enchanted