Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor
Publication date: October 6, 2020
Length: 442 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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. 

At age 23, Adeline is old to be getting married — and really, she doesn’t want to be married at all. She cherishes her freedom and wants so much more out of life, but when the decision is taken out of her hands, she runs away and calls on the gods for help. Her help comes from a god of darkness, who grants her freedom and immortality in exchange for her soul, whenever she’s had enough of life.

Addie accepts this deal, but soon learns that there’s a trick in what she bargained for. She wanted absolute freedom, to belong to no one but herself, and that’s what she’s been given. But in belonging to no one, all connections have been severed, and from that moment onward, it’s as if Addie never existed. Her own parents don’t know her, and her history has been erased. When she encounters someone, whether for the first or 100th time, they forget her as soon as she’s out of sight.

Thus, Addie is doomed to wander alone, never able to make an impression, never to form relationships, never to have a home. She can’t even find a bed for the night without resorting to trickery — she may pay for a room at an inn, but as soon as the door closes, the landlord has forgotten her, and she’s soon kicked out, taken for an intruder.

Meanwhile, over the course of the centuries that pass, her dark god reappears to offer temptation, enticing her to give up her miserable existence and give herself up to him, once and for all.

Addie is determined and stubborn, and despite the many moments of sorrow and despair, there’s also glory. From a village girl destined for a hard life and an early death, she’s morphed into a world traveler, a muse, and a fearless explorer, seeking out all the beauty she can find, pursuing connections with people even while knowing she’ll be starting over again each day.

Until suddenly, it all changes. One day, she meets a young man in a bookstore, and when she goes back, her remembers her. How is this possible? Who is he, and why does he seem to be immune to the curse that follows her wherever she goes?

It wouldn’t be fair to say more, but I will say that this book is beautiful and unexpected, full of sadness and wonder. It’s a moving love story, but even more, a lovely testament to one woman’s courage and determination to live life to its fullest.

I loved Addie as a character — how fierce she is, and how she manages to survive and to find joy despite the curse that’s intended to leaver her always alone and always suffering. She manages to turn her solitude into a life that few would be able to tolerate, but still, she’s not sorry to have had all those years and the experience they bring.

The premise put me in mind of a book I read a few years ago, The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North, also about someone whom no one can remember — but while that book ultimately frustrated me, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue swept me up in its fantasy and the gorgeous writing.

This is easily one of my top reads of 2020. Highly recommended!