Last year, I became acquainted with V.E. Schwab’s writing by reading the “Shades of Magic” Trilogy. I loved her world building, the different Londons and the magic aspect in it. I totally adored Lila Bard and Kell Maresh and we became buddies throughout the books. So, when I saw that everyone was reading her new book, “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue”, I jumped right into it and I didn’t regret it one bit!
“The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” combines fantasy, historical fiction and contemporary fiction in such a perfect way that keeps the reader wanting more. The fantasy part is so small and so huge at the same time, as it plays a very fundamental role in the whole story. We meet Addie, who is an only daughter, that hasn’t gotten married yet. Therefore, she is forced to an unwanted wedding, but she has little to no saying about it. Don;t forget it is the 18th century! So she decides to ask for help. If she prays to the Gods, they might listen to her and grant her her wish. All she wants is to belong to no one, to be free, for as long as she lives. There was a God that answered to her prayer, but it was the wrong one. So Adeline, Addie, made a deal with the Devil and she was bound to live forever, until she decided she could no longer bear that life and agreed to give away her soul. The catch is that she will be forgotten by everyone she ever meets and therefore she will be living a lonely life. She won’t be able to say her own name. She won’t be able to leave any mark in this world. How long could she manage to live this life?
“The old gods may be great, but they are neither kind nor merciful. They are fickle, unsteady as moonlight on water, or shadows in a storm. If you insist on calling them, take heed: be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price. And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”
Well, she lasted at least 300 years. Having no actual home, no friends, no money she has learned to live the life of theft and mischief. So when she goes back to a bookstore from which she stole a book, in particular Odyssey written in Greek, and the bookseller actually remembers her she is dumbfounded! Henry not only remembers her, but he can say her name. She is able to tell him her name, something that never happened in the past 300 years of her life. And so their story begins.
“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?”
― V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
But this is not only the story of Addie’s and Henry’s love. It’s so much more than this. It’s the 1714 France and the years that followed. It’s the great people that Addie met throughout the course of life. It’s the hint that all the great and talented people could have made a deal just like Addie’s. It’s about wanting something so much, not thinking clearly and not being able to ask for it in the right way. It’s about decisions we take and the cost we have to pay for them. It’s about this beautiful trip we call life and all it can give us.
I loved every bit and piece of Addie LaRue’s story. I enjoyed reading about her invisible life and the people that came and went in her life without even having a clue they’ve been there. I loved Addie’s character, who is not flawless, but learns from her mistakes. Who is willing to pay the price, but get the most out of it. Who is determine to not let the devil win, but aims to defeat him in his own game. Who, invisible as she might be, she finds a way to leave her mark in this world.
This book had some great representation in it, as in most of Schwab’s books. Even thought the two protagonist are not of colour, there is LGTBQ+ community representation in a very thoughtful way. One of the characters in the book suffers from depression and the author does a great job putting into paper all those insecurities many of us may have, concluding to a very serious and very difficult situation. I feel that many readers will relate to that specific character. I did to some extend. But I could also see where it lead, so I can have my chance to do the right thing!