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

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

‘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 home town 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.’

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a beautifully written book that I simply couldn’t put down. I particularly enjoy stories that exploit the idea of parts of the narrative happening in different time periods and, in this case, it was especially well done and never without clear purpose, focusing on the significant events that shape Addie and how her deal with the devil unfolds. How time is visited and runs over the course of the story is one of its strongest features, in my opinion, and it was often that I found myself preferring the glimpses into the past to the present day passages.

This isn’t to say that that which happens in the present day isn’t full of stunning writing, particularly its look at how Addie has left her mark through the years, despite being unable to impact the world around her as she wishes. My biggest issue here is with the pacing, for it feels as if the collection of characters the Addie meets are, in-fact, the forgettable ones (I still wonder if this is deliberate and further commentary on the nature of memory and belonging) and I found myself wanting to skip ahead to spend less time with them. Her love interest is an intriguing and engaging character in himself, but the people around him less so, which, again, I wonder if there is the possibility of it being playing with the idea of what he desires and the irony of it being his friends who are as he feels. It’s well into the story that readers finally meet him, which means that a lot of the reveals towards the end of the novel are rather rushed and are details I would have happily read much, much more about it.

Addie’s relationship with the devil is one of the details that has a good deal of late reveals, though remains one of, if not the most engaging facet of the story. Addie herself doesn’t appear to change much in terms of personality or temperament, and ultimately with only herself and the devil for company, this is quite understandable, since it is arguably the people around us who influence us the most (this is perhaps most evident in the book’s conclusion, when it becomes very clear who she has been learning from). Instead, Addie focuses on learning and accumulating knowledge, which is maybe the best decision she could have made in terms of her sanity, literature being a way for her to experience vicariously what she never will.

A fantastic read, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of those books that feels as if it is a dream, the prose lyrical and haunting. Highly recommended.

I received a digital e-ARC from Netgalley and the publisher.


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