Any quotes used are from the Netgalley eARC (UK) and are subject to change in the final/published version of the book.
“Am I The Devil Or The Dark? Am I A Monster Or A God?”
The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue, by VE Schwab is a sweeping and mesmerising fantasy about life and what it means to belong, what it means to love and what it means to live.
Synopsis: Addie LaRue learned the hard way that you should “Never Pray To The Gods That Answer After Dark.” In a small town in France in 1714, Addie LaRue prayed to the Old Gods, but the sun had set and the darkness answered. In desperation she makes a deal, a deal to let her live, to be free. But the dark is clever and grants her immortality with a consequence – Addie LaRue is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. But how far will she go to leave a trace, an echo of her presence? Addie wants someone to remember her but what is her limit? She has lived for 300 years and in 2014 in a little bookshop in New York, for the first time since she made a deal, someone remembers her.
So, as many of you know by now I have only read one other book by VE Schwab and that was ADSOM Book 1 (I do plan to read the rest of the series – I just haven’t yet!) Now, this book, however, is completely different from ADSOM in terms of audience and writing style and I was completely drawn in.
However, I do want to point out one thing about The Invisible Life Of Addie Larue, by VE Schwab, its marketing led me to misunderstand the plot a little. The book is marketed in a couple of ways: Firstly attention is drawn to the fact that this is a story about a girl who makes a deal with the devil only to be cursed (And it is most certainly that – and I truly loved this part).
But, the second element of marketing was that this is a love story between the Addie and the devil who cursed her – yes this is touched upon but it is far from the core of the story which was a little disappointing because I wanted an antagonist/protagonist relationship. The romantic focus is on a different male character, with the devil and Addie’s ‘romance’ being pushed into hints and flashbacks instead – it is there but not as expected. Now I actually did enjoy the course the story took, I loved it, I was just initially a little dismayed.
So my waffling aside, overall I really enjoyed The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue, by VE Schwab so let’s dive into why.
The Writing Style/Narrative: Right from the start this book grabbed me, and it never let go. VE Schwab’s writing is simply beautiful in this book, it is lyrical and poetic with mesmerising descriptions and a melancholy that just appeals to you. The prose flows very well throughout the book, the pace is slow but doesn’t dawdle or fall flat, and the narrative is engaging – the use of repetition and the flitting contrasts and duality made the story seem magical but also real and something we can relate to.
I loved how the story is told through both the past and the present, I enjoyed how we got to follow Addie just before she makes her deal, and the immediate consequences of it, as well as following her in the modern day as she has learned to live with the deal and its rules. The duality of the timelines was incredibly effective in showing Addie’s development and slowly revealing the full complexity of her deal and its consequences. The development of time allows us to see Addie grow and deal with an everchanging world in which she is constant – it creates a sense of wonder but also a longing and sadness; it draws perfectly on our need to be remembered, to leave our mark on the world and what would happen if we couldn’t.
We also get, later on in the book, chapters from the main male character’s POV. The inclusion of these chapters is effective and impactful in exploring the theme of wanting to be loved, wanting to be enough. I really enjoyed these chapters and thought they complimented Addie’s well.
The Story/Plot: Addie LaRue is a brilliant story perfect for people like me who adore character driven plots. The story follows Addie after she makes a deal with the devil, with the darkness, to be free from the constraints of her current life so she can truly live – the dark’s price is her soul. The dark is tricky and wants Addie’s soul as soon as possible so he gifts he immortality but with a curse, that she will be forgotten by everyone she meets, and Addie must live with the consequences or hand her soul over. I loved the story which navigates the loopholes and rules that pertain to Addie’s curse – watching how she desperately tries to leave some mark of who she is on the world so she is not truly forgotten – it was a compelling read that played on our deep desire to be remembered even if it is just by one person, by someone we love.
The second part of the story deals with Addie and her love interest, the only person who can remember her. It was captivating watching them fall in love and live life together navigating the difficulties that came with their relationship alongside the curse and the devil’s own interference – this element played on our desire to be loved, to be enough for those around us – complimenting our need to be remembered beautifully. Both elements truly gave this book a deep, emotional element that enthralled and captured you right up until the end.
Finally, we deal with Addie and the dark. I really loved the tricky relationship they had, the tricks and challenges, the ‘game’ they played. I also adored the relationship aspect that came into play, about whether what they had was love or obsession, it was clever, trickstery and enjoyable to watch it play out, to be forced to pay attention to the words they spoke.
I can’t say too much more about the actual story without spoiling it but I also loved the way stories, music, and art came into play as such a core idea of the plot – art, in all forms, is beautiful and outlasts its creators but it also keeps the artist alive, it is an imprint, an echo, and tapestry of their lives, souls and stories and this book beautifully displays this idea. The appreciation for what we create, for how we are remembered in the long run was essential to the story but was also a bewitching idea that runs deep in ourselves and made it all the more relatable.
“…it is sad, of course, to forget.
But it is a lonely thing, to be forgotten.
To remember when no one else does.”
The core of this story was very human despite the fantastical elements because what do we want more than to matter, To be remembered by those we love and those who love us?
Overall, I loved the story, it had a lot of surprising twists and turns, shocking reveals and elements and was, on the whole, a compelling and captivating tale that hit deeply.
The Characters. I absolutely loved the cast of characters present in this book, it is also a very diverse cast with multiple poc and lgbtq+ characters throughout the story. I loved the diversity, and the individuality brought by each character, they are all distinctive with their own personalities, they are all flawed and messy and real, they were all brilliant. Every character came to life, they had strong interests, motivations and beliefs – and they all had believeable and real relationships with each other which was fun and fascinating to read about.
Addie. Our wonderful main character has a lot of development and makes a lot of changes throughout the story, she is realistically written, despite the immortal curse, and is flawed but dynamic. Addie grows and changes along with her story, she is incredibly complex because she grows confident and impulsive but then will begin to be more considerate – she lives life after her initial struggles but still grapples with the fact that no-one can remember her. Her character is complex without becoming paradoxical and her motivations are clear over the course of the story. She makes good and bad decisions, but all within a realistic realm. I really grew to love Addie and her desperation to be remembered, her wit and smarts, her charm – I just loved the character the more the story went on.
The Dark. The devil/God, whatever name you want to give him, I like to call him the Dark (he does have a name later on but I’m not going to tell you it!). Ooh how I loved this evil, manipulative yet charming demon/devil/god! The dark is complex character but his wit, charm and determination is incredibly captivating and watching him play and compete with Addie is intriguing – he is cruel, there is no doubt, but there is something more to him that draws you in. His supposed love with Addie, which may be obsession or possessive behaviour makes him hard to love but there is an element to him that draws on you. His character is mysterious and clever and is a fascinating antagonist to read about.
Henry. The boy who remembers Addie. Henry is sweet, nerdy, charming – again is complex he seems to have little ambition or determination but there is a charm to him. Henry is a great and interesting character that you will fall more in love with as the story goes on. He and Addie have an interesting, dynamic relationship which is sweet, funny and interesting to watch grow and change along with the plot. I won’t say much more about Henry, but his story takes some very interesting turns that I loved to watch play out.
There are MANY more characters I could discuss, all of which are fantastic in their own right but too spoilery to talk too much about. But I loved them and I hope you do too! OI also loved the way they meet Addie, the repetition the feel that ‘there is something timeless’ about her and her constellation of seven freckles.
Overall, The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue, by VE Schwab is a beautifully, compelling and captivating story that is fantastical, but very real and human. It is filled with great characters, an intriguing ending, dynamic relationships and a tricky game of wits and wills between Addie and the Dark. It is a slow character-driven story but it is one that gripped my heart.
*I received an eARC of this from #netgalley #Titanbooks in exchange for an honest review – thank you!*