Author V.E. Schwab is one of the top fantasy authors working in the genre. Her bestselling Shades of Magic series encompasses both books and graphic novels. It is also due for an adaptation that we hope to see more progress on soon. But in her newest book, Schwab steps away from the alternate Londons of her Shades of Magic series. Instead she travels the world and weaves in and out of the life of an immortal girl who sold her soul for a taste of freedom. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue will officially be out on October 6, 2020. Let’s take a look at this beautiful standalone fantasy novel from author V.E. Schwab.
Image via Tor
A Deal With The Devil for Addie LaRue
Adeline LaRue was taught by her elders to “Never pray to the gods that answer after dark.” In the early 1700’s she is a young girl living in a small town in France. She is already a woman out of time, one who chafes at the idea of marriage and children. She longs for adventure and the freedom to live her life on her terms. In a desperate move to escape her impending marriage, Addie prays to the god who answers after dark. He gives her life unending, and in exchange strips the memory of her from her family and village. Addie finds herself cursed to live a long life where no one remembers her from one day to the next.
“Time – how often has she heard it described as sand within a glass, steady, constant. But that is a lie, because she can feel it quicken, crashing toward her.”
Addie is alone in a world where the dark god is the only one who remembers her name. She lives across the centuries, never aging or dying. Addie witnesses war and devastation, unable to do more than survive in a world that does not know her. She flits in and out of the lives of famous writers and artists, her only lasting impact is the inspiration she gave them. She is a silent muse, unable to forge human connections. Addie lives for 300 years in a world that does not know her. Until one day she meets a young man in a bookstore who remembers her.
A Love Story For The Ages
Photo by Jiroe via Unsplash
Henry is a depressed young man. He jumps in and out of relationships, searching hopelessly for ‘the One.’ His character is a romantic figure, and the strength of his emotions jump off the page. Unfortunately those strong emotions often lead him to making foolish mistakes. When he meets Addie – and remembers her stealing a book from his shop – both of their lives change irrevocably. He is drawn into her world and inevitably they fall in love. But their love seems doomed from the outset. Addie is still haunted by the dark god who granted her immortality. That god wants to claim Addie for his own, as he also loves her in a possessive and manipulative type of way.
The love story between Addie and Henry is tender and sweet. It is clear that they have both had love affairs over time, although Addie’s timeline is much longer and storied than Henry’s own. Neither of them are innocent, but there is something pure about their connection. They have both been searching for something. Henry searches for true love, while Addie simply searches for someone who will remember her after a night together.
It is to the author’s credit that Addie does reflect on whether or not she truly loves Henry, or if she is just giddy about the fact that he remembers her. But even with these doubts and the darkness constantly lingering at the edges of their story, their love stands true. Both of them must ask themselves how far they would go for the other. What do we sacrifice for the ones we love? What shapes our identity? How do we want to be remembered? Addie LaRue asks these questions in a poignant way, revealing depths to the characters that make them feel real and true to life.
A Timely Study In What It Means To Be Lonely
Book Plates From The Signed Copies of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue | Artist credits: Iryna Khymych | Rengin Tümer | Nicole Deal | Image via MacMillan Books
If there is one thing that every character in this book has in common, it is the devastation of loneliness. Even the dark god who covets Addie is clearly lonely, he wants her because she is the only one who has stood up to him over the centuries. Addie and Henry are both lonely people. Henry is lonely despite all of his close friends because he craves love above all else, and he cannot trust those who claim to love him. Not until he meets Addie at least.
Addie’s loneliness is crushing, but she lives with the weight of it because there is no other option for her. The first half of the book moves around in time, following Addie in the present day as it her history also unfolds in her memory. We see her timeline in snippets, like memory that haunts her. Although no one else can remember her, Addie never forgets.
“Being forgotten, she thinks, is a bit like going mad. You begin to wonder what is real, if you are real. After all, how can a thing be real if it cannot be remembered?”
The reader follows her through her earliest and most tortured days as a young immortal, as she fully learns the extent of the curse laid upon her. We also see her gain in confidence, and learn the parameters of the curse and how far it extends. She falls in love with people who do not know her, and she has to regain their trust and affection with every new day. She has nowhere to call home, stealing into the lives of others for a bed for the night and gone by morning. Adeline LaRue walks through the world where no one knows her name, except for the god who cursed her.
I received an ARC of this book back in April, and read it early during the pandemic. At a time when I saw no one outside of my own home, and the loneliness was a tangible weight. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue reflected that feeling of isolation and being alone right back at me. The book helped me to deal with that inevitable depression that comes with feeling alone, and to understand that when we are alone is when we are most ourselves. But the novel also reminded me of the joy that comes from seeing yourself reflected in the eyes of another person who understands you. And how the people who love you can often see your true strength and worth, even when you cannot.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Is A Book You’ll Remember Long After The Story Is Over
Image via Tor
Memory plays a huge part in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. What it means to be remembered, as well as what it means to be the only who remembers. The way Addie’s story unfolds through memory is beautifully executed, much like everything else in the book. And the funny thing about memory is that sometimes you read a book and forget all about it. Sometimes you read a book and it sticks to your insides, rattles around in your brain and won’t let you forget it. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a book that you’ll remember long after the story is over. It is a magical journey to the deepest and darkest places in the heart and it was definitely one of my favorite books of the year.
Author V.E. Schwab | Image via Tor Forge
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a gorgeous, haunting tale that is bittersweet and evocative. The lyrical prose paints lush and vivid pictures of life and the way time wreaks havoc on it. It asks deep questions about the nature of humanity, memory, and identity. In a world where standalone fantasy novels are rare creatures, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of the best standalone fantasy novels that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in recent years. It also stands as Schwab’s best work in her career so far, which is saying a lot coming from me who deeply loves the Shades of Magic series. V.E. Schwab is one of the best fantasy authors of our generation, and this novel only reinforces that fact.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.