The Uses of Enchantment opens with the alleged abduction of Mary Veal, a sixteen-year-old girl from an upper middle class New England family. Mary is last seen leaving field hockey practice on a rainy November afternoon in 1985 and disappearing into the Mercedes of a mysterious man who is a "probable pervert" and has been seen stalking Mary and her friends for the past several weeks. He offers to drive her home. She is gone for more than a month, and when she returns, she says she is suffering from amnesia but suggests she was molested.
But is this really what happened?
The Uses of Enchantment is told from three different points of view, one of them being "What Might Have Happened." Chapters alternate between the past and the present.
In one of the narratives, we follow the story of Dr. Hammer, who becomes Mary's therapist after her abduction. He believes Mary is lying because her story echoes another well-known story of a young girl who lied about her abduction. He writes a book about it, and even though he changes Mary's name, it's no secret who the book is really about. But Dr. Hammer isn't exactly the person he seems to be and may have other motivations for altering Mary's story.
The Uses of Enchantment can be a frustrating read at times. The reader may feel as if they are being manipulated because none of the characters seem to be reliable witnesses, but perhaps that is the point of the novel: no one knows the truth.