Addie Larue is one of those books that I just had to put down and walk away from once it was over. V.E. Schwab is one of my auto-buy authors, a woman whose writing always leaves me a little bit stunned, even after so many novels; between the plots and the writing, I just don't understand how someone is consistently this good at what they do.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is part historical fiction, part fantasy, part philosophical inquiry, filled with unanswerable life questions and moments of self-actualization gilded by affection, and love, and hardship.
Addie is a lifetime of stories penned in 448 pages. In those pages, in the 300 hundred years that Addie has lived, Schwab weaves the hardest pieces of reality into this gorgeous fantasy novel. There's depression and anxiety, there's desire of a life well-spent, of a life hard earned and still uncertain. Addie is more complicated than I anticipated, and so real about what it means to live and be. I find that the characters are amalgamations of real people, filled with real thoughts, living in a world where they have a chance to meet their demons face to face.
In The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, Adeline LaRue is born in France in the late 1600s. Desperate for freedom that she will never have as a woman, Addie makes a deal with the shadows incarnate. Whether a devil or simply the darkness come alive, Addie's god grants her the chance to live forever, but curses her to be forgotten by everyone she ever meets. This pain, he hopes, will make her broken enough to give him her soul.
Destined to live with the sun always setting on those around her and determined not to give him any part of herself, Addie's invisible life begins. She moves through the world like that thought in the back of your mind, that word on the tip of your tongue, that feeling of forgetting but not knowing what's been forgotten. Addie's story crosses continents, cultures, and time as she weaves herself into the fabric of the world, into others' lives, even as the threads of who she is are pulled from their memories with every closing door and sleep-filled night.
Until, suddenly, someone doesn't forget.
Addie LaRue is a masterpiece in humanity, even as the shadows attempt to strip Addie's from her. It leaves me wondering, are relationships what make us human? and how do we gauge the impact that others have on our lives?
Addie is not a straightforward novel. It's not a quick read or even an easy read. There are nuances in those pages that I'm sure I haven't discovered with just one time through it, but it's a soft book. It's trauma's worn edges, like rocks in a 300-year old stream.
There are things I wanted from this novel at the beginning that I didn't want by the end. I was content for the story to take whatever shape it was supposed to, and I'm satisfied that Schwab gave Addie and the rest the story they deserved. This wasn't a novel where the author fit the characters around the plot; it was organic in the way that the characters lived their lives and Schwab transcribed their story into worlds.
V.E. Schwab had Addie rolling around in her mind for ten years before it was published for the rest of us, and on the page, it feels like she devoted every day of those ten years to Addie's story.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is meta, is philosophical, and is great, with romance and affection and agony and blame tied together in Addie's search for belonging. The writing is beautiful, the plot clever, and the book came together and left me dazed, but satisfied, and that's the biggest praise for something like this.