V. E. Schwab’s latest book, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, cast a long spell on me. I read it weeks ago now, but I couldn’t manage to articulate what the story had done to me because it was still doing it. I haven’t felt haunted like this since reading Phantom by Susan Kay when I was in my teens.
About 300 years ago, Addie made a deal with a demon in exchange for her freedom. She avoided a marriage she didn’t want, and what she saw as a one-way trip to dying in childbirth. But her handsome demon was something of a trickster, and now, whenever someone looks away from her, she’s erased from their mind. If she pays for a room to sleep, she’s kicked out when the landlord forgets she did so. If she falls in love, they will not remember her the next day, but they might fall in love with her again… and again… and again, until she grows tired of being forgotten. If she sleeps with them, come morning they’ll have forgotten, embarrassed and thinking her a prostitute they’d hired after too much drink. She moves from broken heart to broken heart, stealing food and clothes where she can, and moves like a ghost through history.
Desperate to be remembered somehow, in defiance of the demon who made her like this, she becomes something of a muse, inspiring arts and words and music.
When she meets Henry, she is astounded that someone remembers her at last. They fall in love, and she experiences what a real relationship can be, what it’s like to have a shelter she hasn’t stolen. Through him, at last, she finds the means to be remembered. But.
This isn’t quite the love story one might have expected at the outset. I leave it at that to avoid spoilers, but I will say this: V. E. Schwab managed to transcend romance (this will make sense when you read it) and the ending, which I did not anticipate, is perfect. Addie’s strength of character and will just blew me away.
I will remember Addie. And I highly recommend this book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.