The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab is a story driven novel about a girl who makes a deal for her soul, and refuses to give up.
Born in the 1600s in a small village in France, little Adeline LaRue is a dreamer. When she is 23, she can no longer put off marriage to a village man with three children. Terrified, she flees into the night, calling on the ancient gods of the forest to save her from her plight. A dark god appears and offers her a deal, and she takes it.
This book is pure escapism. It’s lovely. Addie LaRue cleverly tests the boundaries of her deal as her life continues. This novel speaks to the wanderer. The lover of travel, whether through books or the physical world, will enjoy Addie’s tale. I do not want to give any spoilers or to outline the deal she made, but it grants her some measure of immortality and she is able to travel the world. She comes into contact with some major historical figures who have made similar deals.
There are fleeting mentions of people like Beethoven and Voltaire; these add mild interest to the story and are woven into the tale in a way that enhances the story. Whenever an author brings historical figures into novels they risk losing the skeptical reader. Schwab does a good job using the names to further enhance the mood and setting of the novel, as the book jumps back and forth between the present and the past.
The dark God, who she decides to call Luc (aka Lucifer), has a personality all his own. I imagined that he looked like Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog even though he is described as looking completely different in the book. Does that ever happen to you? You love a character so much that you transform them to look totally different inside your head?
Anyway, Luc’s character is fantastic. He’s deliciously evil but there is a pull, an attraction. You want to see him turn up in the story, and you want to see just what happens between him and Addie. He keeps his end of the deal, but somewhere along the way their adversarial relationship gains tension and depth. This is really well written. That must be why it’s getting a film adaptation! I can’t wait for that.
This book reminds me of A Witch in Time, a similar tale where a girl is cursed and is attached in some way to a supernatural dark figure who is a constant presence in her life. I included A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers in one of my very first posts on Breezy Afternoons – the books I read in 2020 that stood out. I liked A Witch in Time so much, that I bought the physical copy after having checked out the e-book from the library. It makes sense that I’d enjoy Addie LaRue just as much: I give this novel five stars, as well.
If you enjoy supernatural tales with strong female leads, Addie LaRue is for you. I had this book on hold for a while and when it came time to read, I devoured it. I was unable to put the book down, and I finished it in an embarrassingly short time. Whatever the cadence is that makes a story unputdownable, this author has it figured out.
Don’t take my word for it. Take Neil Gaiman’s:
“For someone damned to be forgettable, Addie LaRue is a most delightfully unforgettable character, and her story is the most joyous evocation of unlikely immortality.”Neil Gaiman
Here is the publisher’s description of the novel:
A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
Here are some accolades this book has earned, as copied from the Amazon listing for Addie LaRue:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
USA TODAY BESTSELLER
NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER
THE WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER
Recommended by Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple, NPR, Slate, and Oprah Magazine
#1 Library Reads Pick—October 2020
#1 Indie Next Pick—October 2020
BOOK OF THE YEAR (2020) FINALIST—Book of The Month Club
A “Best Of” Book From: Oprah Mag * CNN * Amazon * Amazon Editors * NPR * Goodreads * Bustle * PopSugar * BuzzFeed * Barnes & Noble * Kirkus Reviews * Lambda Literary * Nerdette * The Nerd Daily * Polygon * Library Reads * io9 * Smart Bitches Trashy Books * LiteraryHub * Medium * BookBub * The Mary Sue * Chicago Tribune * NY Daily News * SyFy Wire * Powells.com * Bookish * Book Riot *Library Reads Voter Favorite *
In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After Life, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s genre-defying tour de force.