Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

V. E. Schwab is a well-established name in the fantasy world; her works range from YA bestsellers such as the Monsters of Verity series to the hugely successful Shades of Magic books. The Edinburgh-based writer has spent her lockdown with family in France, which is, incidentally, the home of her newest heroine, Addie LaRue. Having remained at the top of bestseller lists for weeks since its release, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (2020) has taken the world by a storm and enchants new readers every day.

Adeline LaRue is a young woman born in 18th century rural France who is determined to maintain her freedom by deflecting any and all marriage proposals she receives. In utter desperation to escape the domestic future her parents have planned for her with a man she does not love, Addie makes a deal with the devil – one that will haunt her for centuries…

When every person you meet forgets your existence as soon as they lose sight of you – in a twisted rendition of “out of sight, out of mind” – it seems impossible to make a mark in the world. This thought is at the core of Addie’s story: how can she leave a legacy if every trace of her existence is erased within hours? Schwab tells her heroine’s tale with profound lyricism and deep affection, creating a journey through the centuries of memories that make Addie’s invisible life, ironically, unforgettable to the novel’s readership.

Every great protagonist must meet their match, and Addie does so in the darkness itself alongside her deviant companion Luc, who seems to alternate between manipulating and aiding her. There is no doubt that the antagonist’s mysterious existence and the supernatural deal he strikes with Addie create an intriguing puzzle for the reader – and we all love to hate a scheming villain.

The only person to ever remember Addie is bookseller and story-keeper Henry. The pair’s relationship soon blossoms through a mutual appreciation of art in all its forms, and Henry begins writing down Addie’s story. However, Schwab also introduces the reader to the struggles of fluctuating mental wellbeing in Henry, a character who has weathered many a mental storm in his young life. Schwab’s sensitive approach to depression and the expression of suicidal thoughts makes The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue as current as it is relevant.

Many years in the making, the book is obviously a product of the love its creator holds for her characters. With a film adaptation already in the making with eOne, Addie’s story is one that should not be missed!

by Fine Mayer