I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Crime fiction or psychological thriller maybe? Social exploration or prison memoir? I couldn’t work it out from the intriguing cover and blurb. I suppose it’s a mixture of these things; even now I’m not 100%. What I do know is that days after reading this book, I’m still thinking about it.
We are introduced to a nameless prisoner on death row. We do not know his crime, but we do learn about the ins and outs of his prison from his unique and insightful perspective.
We learn of the golden horses that run beneath the earth of his dungeon cell, the little men that scamper inside the stone walls and the sinister beasties that dance in the warmth of the prison crematorium.
Alongside the mysterious prisoner and his musings, we learn of “the lady” whose job is to investigate the lives of the men who have their execution death set, in a bid to see if they can be saved.
We learn about the lady and her job in depth, as well as the man who is her current case; a man who is ready to die. We also meet other characters in the prison; we see their lives both in and out of the prison through both their eyes, and those of the mystery inmate, who is a somewhat all knowing, yet indiscernible narrator.
This story explores the ideas behind why people commit such horrific crimes against each other, and also tells of the lives of the people facing capital punishment. I was hooked in by the subtle, haunting tones of the narrator prisoner. The imagery with which he illustrates his prison life to the reader gives the prose a magical quality which, when paired with the gritty nature of the storyline made it so enchanting. I especially liked the idea of the golden horses that run wild and free under the ground of the prison at the most momentous of times.
I felt such a connection to all the characters, and got completely involved in their dark and sometimes sad lives. The Enchanted is such a beautiful, powerful and thought provoking study of human behaviour. This is a one-of-kind story, and despite initial mixed expectations, this is a tale I feel will stay with me for a long while to come.