By V.E. Schwab
© 2020, Tor Books
Hardcover; 448 pages
Adeline LaRue’s biggest fear is living a life of drudgery, like her mother’s and every other person in the tiny French village where she has grown up. On the night of her wedding in 1714, before they can compel her to make her vows, she makes a Faustian deal to live forever as a free woman and promises to trade her soul on the day she no longer wants it. But some deals can’t be unmade, and Adeline is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Until 300 years later when a young man she met in a bookstore remembers her.
The idea of living forever is, to some, an ideal. But to be forgotten by everyone is a special sort of torture with its own challenges which Addie must learn to navigate. The tale of her long-term education and special brand of stubborn endurance is slow-paced but compelling. Yet the moment I was convinced I could predict the rest of this story, in walks Harry, who remembers Addie from the day before. And I was completely hooked.
With every turn of the page, Addie’s quick, curious mind and adventurous spirit unfolds like the petals of a wildflower that will not be denied its time in the sun. I fell in love with her courage, her persistence, her ability to survive no matter what. Chapters flash back and forth in time, revealing in slow measure all the experiences that lead Addie to be who she becomes. Harry, too, takes time on the page, leading the reader to see why he is who he is, and how things got to this point in his life. Addie’s choices, even knowing the consequences—especially knowing the consequences—further strengthened Addie’s arc and made me love her even more.
Set against real-world cities and historical unfoldings, Schwab’s skill at building Addie’s character truly shines. Through her trials, and later those Harry endures, I came to love and root for them both. And while my early suspicions about where the story was going turned out to be correct, Schwab still managed to surprise me. The story couldn’t have ended any other way, and yet the reader is left with hope when the last page is turned.
Beautifully written, the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is full-on, character-driven, literary fiction with a supernatural twist. This is a perfect book for those who want a deep dive into compelling human drama.