Book Briefs: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue


V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab is a fantasy novel that follows the life of Adeline LaRue, a woman living in 1714 France. The story follows LaRue as she chases her dreams to see the world.

Christina Huang, Guest Contributor

What would one be willing to do for freedom? Escape from their current life and all its pressures? Escape from running out of time?

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, a fantasy novel by V.E. Schwab, tells the story of Adeline LaRue, a woman living in 1714 France, with dreams to see the world and her society’s expectations chaining her to her village. First published in 2020, it became a nominee for Best Fantasy in the Goodreads Choice Awards that very year.

V.E. Schwab writes, “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.”

This is the warning given to Adeline LaRue by an old woman in her village in France, the only one still believing in the old gods. But when faced with new circumstances that she fears will strip her from her freedom, she turns desperately to the only god answering her. 

A deal is made, and when she realizes that it means that she no longer has a home with the people she knows; chased out by the ones she loves, now a stranger. Forced into ‘freedom’ as promised—but with a price she couldn’t have ever imagined. 

The story begins 300 years later, in New York City. 300 years, adjusting to her new life. With the burden that she cannot leave any sort of impression on the world whatsoever. Including in the memories of people. From the start, readers are introduced to the repetition in her life. Routines with the people she could have—would have—loved. Meeting them over, and over, and over again, only to slip from their minds the instant she leaves. 

This consequence, however, leaves an exception. The god who granted her this immortality; this so-called freedom. The god who has stolen the face and name of a stranger she dreamt up in her desire to see more than familiar things of her village. He’s a constant and important part of her story, reappearing to see if she would finally relent and fulfill her part of the deal, which can only be done once she gives up her soul to him. 

The first part out of seven is focused on Addie, with her life, revealing to readers her past slowly with every chapter. Everything from the way she lived, the way she survived, to the ways she discovers small impacts she can make. Influenced by her, things that stay when everything she creates disappears. 

Near the end of the first part, readers meet another co-main character, Henry, who becomes more prominent in other parts to follow, but begins his own chapters as soon as they first meet. He’s a mystery that completely shatters the continual pattern of Addie’s life which readers were trained to be accustomed to. It’s a new element of surprise, something new to keep readers interested and wanting to read on. Though meeting him is something mentioned in the premise of this book, the timing in which he comes in may feel late to some.

The writing itself is distinctive in the way Schwab’s writing tends to be—filled with almost lyrical descriptions and common line breaks, the words at times seeming to blur the line between poetry and prose. There’s a big focus on the characters, at least for the first two parts, the effort to bring them to life and make them real apparent. 

It reads easily, though sliding over words may become just as easy. Despite the length of it, the first two parts are more on the slower side of things in terms of progression. Though this makes sense in order to introduce readers to this new world, readers looking for something fast, quick, and action-packed may not find exactly what they’re looking for in this novel. 

Overall, the first 159 pages(parts one and two) could be slow but the other five parts are left something to be eager of, as readers search for the questions they have, reading on to see how it would all unravel, the hope they may dare to have that everything—miraculously—would end up okay, a solution to Addie’s prolonged isolation. 

As mentioned before, so far it doesn’t seem like a book for readers wanting something quick but rather for ones that are looking for something deeper, a story hard to forget about a woman who can’t be remembered. And while several popular books have been misleading, giving readers high expectations only to let them down, this one seems, so far, to be rightfully well-reviewed.