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

I placed my hold for “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” back in the summer of 2021, and finally received it in mid-March 2022. The wait and anticipation continued to rev up my excitement for the novel, as well as continually seeing it on many top book lists online. Of course, this left me with the all important question: will this novel live up to the hype surrounding it?

“The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” follows a young woman named Adeline who, in 1714, desires to live a fuller life than what is expected of her at the time. She flees her wedding (that she had no desire for) and makes the mistake, as she was warned not to do, and “prays to the gods who answer after dark”. The darkness comes and Addie makes a Faustian-type deal with him. She asks for freedom, and he gives her a twisted version of that. Addie is doomed to a life of the ultimate freedom – she cannot be remembered, cannot say or write her name, cannot be physically harmed or harm another or have her photo taken. She asks her self a version of the tree-in-a-forest question throughout her life – if a person cannot leave any mark on the world, were they even there at all? Addie names the darkness Luc, and he tells her this freedom is a gift, of course, but he is just waiting for the day that she gives in and cannot stand to live in such a life any longer and relents her soul to him. The novel alternates chapter by chapter between the past and 2014 – 300 years later. Addie has lived a long life floating through history without leaving a mark, though she has left an influence on many artists who cannot remember meeting their muse. Addie is doomed to a life where she is never remembered by anyone – until she meets Henry Strauss. Henry remembers Addie day after day and is the only person, other than Luc (who is not a person at all) that remembers her.

This book was a magical journey through history. As mentioned, Addie makes her deal in 1714, and we see her in various places around the world at various monumental times as we learn of her journey from Villon-sur-Sarthe, France to New York City in 2014. She has seen wars, revolutions, inventions and more in her 300 years. Throughout history, she travels – sometimes by way of Luc’s games – through the world to take her from Europe to the US. Traveling through times and locations with Addie was fascinating, as many famous names are dropped throughout the novel that Addie saw on her journey, including Voltaire and Beethoven.

As mentioned, Henry is the only human who has ever remembered Addie after she made her deal. Imagine living a life where everyone you know no longer remembers you. If she spent time with someone, they would forget her the moment they walked away from her, or when they would wake up. Henry, however, is different, and I couldn’t wait to find out why. No spoilers here, of course, but learning more about Henry was an interesting sideline into Addie’s story. Some parts of the story moved slower than others, but imagine living for 300 years! Not every moment is going to be monumental and action-packed, and I think Schwab did a great job of making the reader feel like they have lived this lifetime with Addie while reading her story. Addie’s relationship with Luc was also fascinating to me, and changed drastically throughout the novel. I found him interesting, suave and charismatic as only the darkness can be. Luc and Addie play the ultimate game of wits for 300 years, both trying to out-smart the other. This story was smart, nostalgic, and asked readers to ponder some serious questions along the way. If you’re looking for a story full of fantasy, longing, history and emotions, place your hold on The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab today!