Adeline, the protagonist from The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab, knows how annoying it is to re-introduce yourself.
No, like, she really understands. Addie has to re-introduce herself to every person she encounters. If they turn their back to her, they’ll forget her. Addie Larue is literally outta sight, outta mind.
All the introductions take time. But Addie has so much of it, being immortal and all.
It was a strange deal to make with the devil, trading her ability to be remembered for time. And it was mostly fine, invisibly slipping through the world. Until one day, on a spring day in New York City, a bookshop teller remembers her.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue details the soaring highs and degrading lows of a long, unacknowledged life.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
Born in 1691, Addie Larue is considered an old maid when she’s forcibly betrothed in 1714. On her walk to the church, Adeline pulls a Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride. But, instead of tabloid fame, her village would like to hunt her down and punish her for defying convention. And, instead of a FedEx truck whisking her away, it’s the Lord of Darkness.
Adeline had been warned by the friendly village crone not to pray to the gods who answer after dark, but this was a desperate situation. When Luc (what she comes to call him) shows up in those dark woods, she begs to be free. She promises to relinquish her soul once she’s tired of it.
As Luc says, he’s in the business of deals, not mercy. He gives Adeline what turns out to be the most isolating freedom imaginable. No one remembers Addie. No one claims Addie. Addie leaves no mark. She can’t even write her name or start a fire (this was suuuper inconvenient before electricity).
Over the next 300 years, Addie explores the boundaries of her dastardly deal.
The Devil You Know
Addie Larue struggled mightily the first fifty years of her enchantment. Her only constant (even when cruelly inconsistent) were visits from Luc on the night of their “anniversary.”
Every time, Luc would find some way to taunt and needle, asking Adeline if she was ready to relinquish her soul. Every time, Addie said no. This back and forth became a game, a dance; painful but at least amusing. Though their relationship was, uh, toxic, it was the only one Addie had.
I looked forward to the interactions between Addie and Luc and practically found myself rooting for the guy. Schwab does a great job with characterization, able to make even supreme darkness relatable.
Addie Larue: Vintage Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Addie Larue isn’t like other girls. Especially the ones born in the seventeenth century. Other girls may have been just as illiterate and scrappy, but none were so staunchly anti-marriage. But Addie knew there were better things. Somehow. (Cuz she went to a slightly bigger village to hang out at a medieval mall for a few summers, basically.)
She even becomes a muse, of sorts. Though Addie leaves no mark, she can leave…impressions. Impressions in the form of ideas, planted by her, in talented men who will never remember her, that blossom into paintings, songs, and more.
While I enjoy Addie, this all seems too good to be true. A tad…gimmicky, if you will.
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is a mediation on love, consent, and influence. How important is our attention? Do we really love what we love or have we not noticed anything else? If we love something, should we let it free? Why do we love what hurts us? Why do we hurt what loves us?
While V.E. Schwab doesn’t answer these questions, she shows the reader a good time exploring them.
And yet. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is a very good book, but it’s not a great book. I can’t put my finger on why.
What’s your take? Let me know in the comments.