By Dan De Neve
A tale that’s been told countless times, but this time dealing with the devil doesn’t quite turn out the way you might think in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.
In France, 1774, Adeline, in an attempt to escape an arranged marriage and leave her hometown, makes a deal with a man who resembles someone Adeline had drawn. In exchange for her freedom, Luc makes her completely forgettable.
People who meet Adeline completely forget her minutes later if they leave her company or lose eye contact with her. Compounding this problem, nothing she tries to keep stays with her. She either loses it or it is stolen.
She also cannot be killed, nor can she kill anyone directly. When injured, Adeline heals almost instantly. At first, all of this makes survival a challenge. However, Luc, with whom she made the deal, says he can make all the difficulties go away if she just gives up her soul.
Unfortunately for Luc, that just strengthens Adeline’s resolve to carry on and find a way to be remembered.
The story, quickly paced, spans more than 300 years and alternates brief chapters between past and present. As the years turn into centuries, Luc mocks Addie, the name she goes by later, by telling her that he expected her to be so much more and do so much more than just trying to see the world or survive, considering he has given her complete freedom.
Eventually, Addie encounters another person who does remember her, but he has a secret.
While the tale of dealing with the devil is nothing new, I thought this retelling was interesting. If the book suffered, it was from a lack of inserting Addie into more historical events.
One of my favorite scenes is where Luc takes Addie to Beethoven’s last night. There, Luc makes his claim on Beethoven’s soul, as his time is up. The great composer argues, but it is to no avail as the darkness envelops him.
Another scene has Addie in a Nazi prison as a POW. Luc assists her in escaping. The book could have used more scenes like this. Instead, the author builds a love story, which creates a unique twist during the last third of the book and, especially, at the conclusion.
I enjoyed the book and recommend it for those who like magic, history, and romance.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was the August selection for the Seaside Book Group at the Dana Point Library. The book group meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 10:30 a.m. at the Dana Point Library.
Copies of the current selection are available at the checkout desk. For more information, please call the library at 949.496.5517.
Dan DeNeve is a longtime employee of the Orange County Public Library. He currently works at the Dana Point Library as the Adult Services Librarian. He is an avid reader of history, biographies and sports.