When Addie La Rue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there’s always a price – the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.
Addie flees her tiny hometown in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.
Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.
Until one day, in a second-hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever.
I love V. E. Schwab’s work, and particularly enjoyed the Shades of Magic series. Schwab is an incredibly versatile writer, and while The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is quite different in tone to the previous books of hers that I’ve read, I absolutely love it.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue offers a new take on the Faustian pact as Adeline “Addie” LaRue makes a deal with the devil in a moment of desperation. She is slightly naïve and unsuspecting and agrees to a deal without due care as to the terms of the agreement, and if there was ever a time to read the small print… Addie must then learn to navigate the world on the terms of this deal as she is forgotten by everyone she comes into contact with as soon as they turn away, leave the room, fall asleep. It’s “out of sight, out of mind” taken to the extreme and makes for a fascinating read even as my heart went out to Addie as she faces hardship after hardship.
Addie is a fantastic character from the outset. She is headstrong and determined to choose her own path in life, and the resilience she shows as the truth of the deal she has made becomes apparent is phenomenal. Seemingly immortal, she does at least have eternal youth to go along with it, but any benefits are far outweighed by the downsides, and Addie’s life – particularly in those first few years – is one of fighting off the despair that is forever nipping at her heels. And the temptation to give in is often apparent, and it is only her own stubbornness that prevents her from doing so. I love her defiance of Luc – as the devil she made the pact with becomes known – throughout the novel, despite his best attempts to demoralise and tempt her into giving up when they meet on the anniversary of their deal each year.
It’s a stunning novel that alternates between New York in 2014 and Addie’s past. We see her journey through the years and the centuries, observing some of the big moments in history from an unusual perspective but also some of the more mundane events that Addie experiences. It gives Schwab the opportunity to explore change over time, and Addie sees fads come and go along with the significant technological advantages made in the last 300 years. And Addie does learn that there are some small loopholes in the terms of deal, and she is able to leave her mark on the world – anonymously – often as a muse for artists and other creatives.
Of course, there’s a moment that causes the trajectory of her life to change, and that moment comes in the form of Henry Strauss – a troubled young man working in a bookstore in New York. He and Addie cross paths when she steals a book from the store and, returning the next day, is stunned to find that he remembers her when no one else has in the last 300 years. It’s a pivotal moment, and one that allows Addie to not only experience the love and friendship that she so desperately craves, but one that also makes her question her deal and whether or not there’s a way out.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a beautifully told and magical tale on the importance of love and friendship and the marks we leave behind us, intended or not.