Confessions of a Reader

'Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.' – Mason Cooley

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Book Review // The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld


Format: Paperback
Published: 12th March 2015
Publisher: Phoenix (Orion Publishing Group Ltd)
Pages: 238

This is a non-spoiler review.


A wondrous and redemptive debut novel, set in a stark world where evil and magic coincide, The Enchanted combines the empathy and lyricism of Alice Sebold with the dark, imaginative power of Stephen King.

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

My Thoughts:
I just absolutely adored this book. It was – for me – absolutely beautiful. Dark, poetic, intense and thought-provoking. I’ve not read a book quite like this in a long time, if ever.

Firstly, this is Rene Denfeld’s non fiction debut – which astounds me. The way this book is written suggests an author with many, many previous works. I didn’t know what to expect when starting this book, it took me a few pages to really get sucked into the story. It has a writing style that I’m not used to, you need to savour the words. The prose is so beautifully written, every single word flowed with such ease. It is truly stunning.

The Enchanted explores many different themes. Here are just a few that I picked up on whilst reading – identity, loss, love, crime, reality of prison and death row, imagination, redemption, longing, understanding and being accepted. 

I really enjoyed the POV the story is told from. Choosing a death row inmate to tell the story, as opposed to an outsider, was a brave and brilliant decision. It is unlike anything I’ve read before. I found my feelings and values completely contrasting throughout the book because of this narrator. I felt absolutely horrified in some respects, and then I found myself feeling sorry for him – even though I knew that morally he had done something wrong. This, in my eyes, is the work of a great author.

The character ‘stories’ were so intriguing. Each of them were like real people, they have been created and moulded into people that I felt I knew. The pain, heartache and suffering in all of them was so heartbreakingly raw – it mustered up so many different emotions in me.  

I researched Rene Denfeld and found out that she is in fact a death-penalty investigator herself. What an amazing insight into the world of crime, death row and the people who are considered monsters. It really gave the book that extra ‘edge’ for me.

A deep and beautifully written book, that has so many underlying messages. Raw, real and edgy. I will definitely be adding this to my favourites shelf.

StarRating5 out of 5 stars

Twitter: @renedenfeld



Library Haulin’ #3



I have slipped a little with my book buying ban – but I’m not too cut up about it. I’m still loving the library – here are my recent finds.

Charm by Sarah Pinborough
Charm is a beautifully illustrated re-telling of the Cinderella story which takes all the much-loved elements of the classic fairytale (the handsome prince, the fairy godmother, the enchanted mouse, the beautiful girl and, of course, the iconic balls) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires. This is fun, contemporary, sexy, and perfect for fans of ONCE UPON A TIME, GRIMM, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN and more.This edition contains 15 original pen and ink illustrations by Les Edwards.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
This is the diary of Cassandra Mortmain, which tells of her extraordinary family and their crumbling castle home. Cassandra’s father was once a famous writer, but now he mainly reads detective novels while his family slide into genteel poverty. Her sister Rose is bored and beautiful, and desperate to marry riches. Their step-mother Topaz has habit of striding through the countryside wearing only her wellington boots. But all their lives will be soon be transformed by the arrival of new neighbours from America, and Cassandra finds herself falling in love.

IMG_2046Baby Play for Every Day – 365 activities for the first year
I got this one obviously for Little P. After quickly flicking through it is a great little book, with tonnes of fun ideas and activities for less boring play with your baby.

Banish boredom, encourage your baby’s development and have fun being a parent with this treasure trove of ideas

This irresistible book contains an inspiring, age-appropriate activity for every single day of your baby’s first year, with baby games and beneficial activities for babies from newborn to 12 months.

Don’t buy expensive toys which are soon forgotten, use everyday objects to stimulate your baby’s growing imagination. No matter your budget, there are activities ranging from indoor and outdoor, to craft and messy play, to nutrition and pampering, to memory making and music. Follow it through day-by-day or dip in and out when the mood takes you. Featuring great advice and creative ideas for mums and dads.

With creative ideas and fun colours, Baby Play for Every Day is the perfect companion for parents and child carers with a new baby.

IMG_2045Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie
“I swore an oath to be avenged on the killers of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath”

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

The deceived will become the deceiver

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.

The betrayed will become the betrayer

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.

Will the usurped become the usurper?

But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, and traps and tragedy.

I’m loving the sound of all of these books – I picked up Charm for my 2015 Reading Challenge, to finish a trilogy. You can read my review of Poison here.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?




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Library Haulin’ #2



My book buying ban is still going strong – I have purchased two books (ones that I wanted, and treated myself too after reading 5 from my TBR pile). This is good for me, I normally buy more than 5 a month!

The library is helping to feed my book addiction. Although I do worry that this may become out of control – at least it’s free though, right?

First on the pile is Poison by Sarah Pinborough. I recently hauled Beauty by the same author and then released that was #3 in a trilogy. Oops! Reserved this online and it will be my next read.

Next up is The Door that led to Where by Sally Gardner. I have been intrigued by this book for a while now, read the synopsis again in the library and immediately added it to my pile.

The Wonder Weeks is a parent/baby book. I have heard mummy bloggers talk about this book and thought I would have a read. It is very expensive to buy so I’m really glad I found it in the library! I have flicked through the first few chapters and it seems pretty spot on.

Lastly, Lockwood & Co. – The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. Every time I go to the library this book is sat staring at me from the shelf. I haven’t picked it up until today – the cover really intrigued me. When I read the synopsis and realised it was about ghosts, I added it to my pile. I believe this also has a sequel/is part of a series.

Have you read any of these? I just want to devour them all NOW.

Happy Reading,

Stacie and Grant




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Library Haulin’ #1



As I have been on a slight book-buying ban — not spending money on books I don’t actually need and reading what I already have — I decided to visit the library. It was lovely to spend some time browsing the shelves, whilst picking up some books that I had already reserved.

I just wanted to share my finds with you, some of these I have got with challenges in mind.

I first saw The Apothecary by Maile Meloy in a haul from my favourite booktuber – MercysBookishMusings. A middle grade novel with magic, potions and spies. The book itself is wonderful – it has gorgeous illustrations throughout, I cannot wait to delve into this one.

I picked up Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro on a whim. I saw it on the YA shelf and thought it sounded interesting. A teen detective novel, with a female protagonist – awesome!

I reserved Beauty by Sarah Pinborough, this is counting towards my 2015 Reading Challenge. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised this is the third in the ‘Tales from the Kingdoms’ trilogy, so have now reserved the first one — Poison. These are fairytale retellings with a twist, I love a good fairytale.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw Vendetta by Catherine Doyle on the new books shelf. I have been wanting to read this after seeing so many great reviews for it. A debut novel that supposedly gives a twist on the classic Romeo & Juliet tale, I am interested to see where this one goes. This will go towards my British Book Challenge.

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond. Again, this was on the new books shelf — I don’t actually know much about it. This is another pot luck read for me.


I also reserved The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. This will count towards my 2015 Reading Challenge too — ‘A book set in your home town’. This is apparently set in Kent, England – according to Goodreads. It is an absolute whopper of a read, I think it may take me a while to get through. I will give it a go and see if I like it or not.

I have SO many more books on reserve too – I just love the library. I definitely need to use it more.

Do you use your local library? Found any great reads lately?

Happy Reading,

Stacie and Grant