Judging the Cover: This is a truly beautiful cover that represents the story well.
Plot according to Goodreads: 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.
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Number of Pages: 237
My thoughts: I love books that cause me to reconsider some of my thoughts on hard hitting and moral issues. This was one such book. There are a lot of things going on in this short book: focus on a death penalty investigator and priest, the life of a prisoner on death row, the life of a new prisoner, some magical realism aspects, and several other issues. I am truly amazed at how the author was able to fit so many storylines into this small book without making it feel rushed or condensed.
The Good: I have always gone back and forth about my personal beliefs on the death penalty. This book caused me to spend a lot of time considering this option and seeing other facets to the issue that I had never fully considered. One thing I really appreciated was that I never felt as though the author was pushing her personal beliefs on the subject into the book. She presented both pros and cons to the issue and allowed the reader to make their own judgements. The death penalty is a very difficult issue and the author handled it brilliantly. I also found the sub plots of the story (what was happening within the prison apart from death row) to be fascinating and extremely disturbing at times. The imagery was perfect and I could easily picture this old stone prison and the people housed in it. The ending was perfect but also left me feeling even more confused with what I believe in regards to the death penalty (which is a good thing).
What I didn’t Like: I wasn’t a fan of the magical realism included in this book. I understand what the author was trying to convey with it but I found myself skimming over those sections. I also found it difficult to connect to the characters, which could have been intentional on the part of the author…in a way it seemed like you could find these characters in any prison.
My rating: 4/5 stars.