The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of the most interesting immortality origin stories I’ve read in a very long time. If you hate book reviews and don’t read any further, I’m giving my conclusion and recommendation right up front this time: go get this book. It’ll mess with your mind and you’ll think about it for days.
Adeline LaRue, an independent and rebellious soul growing up in late 17th Century France, just wants to be left alone. She’s befriended the local wise woman, Estelle, as a child, and doesn’t idolizes the old woman’s relative freedom. Addie doesn’t want to be someone’s wife or mother, which frustrates her mother and eventually exhausts her father. When Addie mistakenly prays to one of the gods of the night in a moment of desperation, she makes an unfortunate deal with a deity not worshipped in the village church. The price of her immortality is to move through the world without being remembered, ever. She can’t speak her own name out loud, can’t leave any record of herself, and is forgotten the moment someone has left the room.
Addie LaRue bounces between New York City, 2014, and the slowly unfolding backstory of her long journey through the centuries, unknown and unremembered. The only “person” who can speak her name, who can remember her when she’s not in the room with him, is Luc, the deity who made the deal. Until, in 2014, Addie meets Henry. Henry remembers Addie when she comes into his bookstore the second time, and Addie finds her first real human interaction in three hundred years.
This is my first book by V. E. Schwab, and I’m now a solid fan. I didn’t anticipate many of the twists in the plot and loved every one. As Addie has lurked in fringe spaces and unseen corners of the world, she’s changed and lost some of her humanity, only she doesn’t believe she’s any different. Schwab’s navigation of Addie’s morality journey and the influences of Luc and Henry on how she sees herself is deftly done, without making the story about the males in her life at all. This book is all about Addie’s journey, and about her fierce stubborn surety that there is always more to see, more to love, more to do. Schwab is an excellent writer, offering beauty and brutality in the depth of Addie’s journey. I got lost in the story, which is one of the best things I can say about a novel.
The plot is twisty enough that I don’t want to give anything else that may be spoilers, so I’ll just reiterate here: go read this book. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was a complete surprise to me, and I loved every page of it.