"The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue," | Reviewed by Jennifer Johnson
What price are you willing to pay to take charge of your own life? In a small French village in 1714, Adeline LaRue is faced with such a question. At 23, and too old to be a maiden, her family long tired of her listlessness and dreaming, she sits on the precipice of her wedding to a man she does not love.
Despite her mother’s promise that marriage will be good for her, that the arrival of children will cure her restlessness, Addie feels doomed to a life devoid of joy or the thrill of adventure. Willing to pay any cost, she ignores the warning of praying to the “Gods who answer after dark.”
In her most desperate hour, she runs into the forest, crying out into the night and the darkness answers. Assuming the shape of the raven-haired lover of her dreams, the devil arrives and agrees to give Addie her freedom in exchange for her soul.
Thrilled, she returns to her family home to learn just what that means: she has been forgotten. Her parents claiming to be childless do not know her. She is a stranger to Estelle, the village sage who has known Addie her whole life, and issued the concern about the old gods. As she turns Addie away on her doorstep and closes the door, she reappears once more having forgotten the momentary encounter immediately. To the world around her, Addie LaRue doesn’t exist.
In 2014, Addie, who hasn’t aged, remains unwilling to give up her life to pay her debt to the devil; she has mastered the art of survival. While everyone she meets forgets her the moment she’s gone, Addie remembers them and knows where to go and what to say to find a place to stay for the night, how to walk into a store and leave with a clean outfit or a cup of coffee.
One day upon returning to a bookstore, after stealing from it the previous day, she hears three words she has not heard in over 300 years: “I remember you.” Stunned and taken aback by shopkeeper Henry and his resemblance to the devil, who erased her existence, Addie clings to the encounter inviting the young man for coffee. Intrigued and invigorated by being remembered for the first time in centuries, Addie searches for understanding as she falls for Henry. As she is finally able to share her life’s story with someone after years of being forgotten, Addie soon learns that he too is paying a price of his own.
“The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” is instantly addictive. Schwab effortlessly weaves back and forth between past and present in telling Addie’s tale, and when Henry is introduced his story is added flawlessly to the mix. Appealing to lovers of many genres, “Addie LaRue” never hovers too long in one trope and feels fresh and interesting.
Addie and Henry are at once timeless and contemporary, their wants and weaknesses deeply relatable and their character arcs equally worthy of cheering for. Though Addie’s soul is promised to the darkness, she is unwilling to hand it over without a fight.