The Invisible LIfe of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

InvisbleMy Five word TL:DR Review : A work of pure genius

I have to say I loved this book.  It’s an absolute tour de force.  On the face of it it isn’t a new concept, in fact it takes an old idea and gives it a life of it’s own.  We’ve all read books or watched movies where someone makes a deal with the devil right?  So, what makes this book stand out.  Well, I suppose it’s the nature of this particular deal – the devil is in the detail after all.

The year is 1714 and Adeline LaRue awaits her marriage with feelings of dread.  Addie doesn’t want to marry.  She’s lived in the same small village, Villon-sur-Sarthe, all her life.  She wants to travel, she wants to see Paris.  She doesn’t want to give up her freedom to fit in with others expectations.  Instead, she runs into the forest, calling on the Gods to help her, not realising that the sun has slowly set and that the only deities who answer during the darker hours are not the ones you want to strike bargains with.  But, the deal is done.  In return for her freedom Addie promises to give up her soul when she grows weary of the world.  What she doesn’t realise is her new found freedom is absolute.  Addie cannot make a mark on the world, people forget her as soon as they look away, she cannot be caught on camera or film, she can’t even write her own name.  She is indeed free but at the same time she can make no bonds, she can’t work or earn a living, buy a place to call her own or have a family.  Addie is cursed to go through life alone.

What I really loved about this book.  Well, firstly, the writing.  This book is a joy to read.  It took me probably a week to complete it which feels unusually slow, but that was simply a result of my wanting to savour the words.  This is polished, it’s confident and it’s absolutely beautiful.  On top of this it’s as though you can almost see how the kernel of an idea blossomed into something so lovely.  We all have sayings, we bandy them around more than we realise.  Be careful what you wish for.  The grass is always greener.  Live every day as though it was your last (or in Addie’s case as though it was your first).  Out of sight out of mind.  What if you took one of these and really built upon it, gave it wings and watched it take off.  Clearly, I have absolutely no idea where the original idea came from but I love the idea that such a wonderful story could come from such a simple beginning.

Secondly.  The main character, Addie.  She is just so good to read and it’s just as well because she is the MC and her timeline is split between her humble beginnings and the current day.  The two timelines eventually converge but in the meantime half of this reads like a work of historical fiction.  There are descriptions of clothes and places, all changing as the years pass, none more so than Addie’s home town which she is consistently drawn back to.  Addie witnesses death, the plague, wars, destruction and invention.  She is a witness to so much and although she can’t leave her own mark she finds that she can influence others.  Addie is a muse.  She appears in many paintings, her face usually turned away from the viewer or blurred as though through movement.  She has influenced music and art through the course of her 300 years and in spite of living so long, experiencing many difficulties and enduring loneliness, she manages to hold onto an innocence and childlike delight in the most simple things and it’s this that gives her such a special quality and timeless appeal.

In terms of characters.  There are of course many ‘small parts’ as the story progresses.  People who play a role in Addie’s life but are ultimately doomed to forget her as soon as the sun rises on a new day.

Henry Strauss is a young man who Addie meets in 2014 and who surprises her by remembering her the following day.  The two become involved in a beautiful, but at the same time, almost sad, relationship.  No matter which way you look at it, things are not going to be easy for any number of reasons.

Then we have Luc, the darkness, or the devil – although he certainly doesn’t refer to himself as such.  I’m not going to lie – I really liked this character even though I’m not sure if you’re supposed to like him.  He’s manipulative, powerful, full of menace, trickier than the fae, a fleeting thought, as elusive as shadow.  He wears a form that he knows is pleasing to Addie and every year he appears to ask for her soul – and every year she refuses to give it to him.  This is one of the really amazing ideas.  Addie has lived so long that in a strange twist it turns out she has much more in common with Luc than she ever imagined.  They are both immortal, both without friends, both lonely and as the years pass, they both look forward to their strange encounters and the battle of wills that has become their routine.  Both Addie and Luc enjoy great character growth as the story and their relationship progresses.

The settings.  Well, what can I say.  This is like an ode to travel.  I defy you to read this and not long to visit some of the places described.  New York, Paris, Munich, Venice.  They’re not overly described but they’re evocative nonetheless.  There is theatre, museums, galleries, cafes and secret clubs.  Rooftop bars and underground concerts.  Another wonder of reading. The ability to escape momentarily to fantastic places whether of this world or not – and this book is brilliant in that respect.

Anyway, I think I’ve probably waxed lyrical enough.  If you can’t figure it out for yourselves, then the long and short of it is that I really enjoyed The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and I have no hesitation in recommending it.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 5 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.   Here’s the description which sounds amazing:

InvisibleFrance, 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.

In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After LifeThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Author genre-defying tour de force.

Expected publication : October 2020