VE Schwab is a fabulous fantasy and YA writer but The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is completely unlike any of her other books. It’s lyrical and beautiful and melancholic and it made me laugh and cry and dream. If I had to describe the perfect setting for this book, it’d be in a park, early on a summer’s morning when the ground is still chilly and the grass is covered in dew, and you warm your hands on a cup of steaming coffee nestled in a thin scarf as you settle on a bench to devour Addie’s story… ANYWAY, I think I’m getting slightly sidetracked so let’s get back to the actual book (my apologies!).
Here are the Content Warnings for Addie LaRue:
- Arranged/forced marriage
- Threat of sexual assault
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poverty and hunger
And the synopsis:
Addie has always known exactly what she wanted… and also what she didn’t want. Striking a deal with the devil to escape the prison of an unwanted marriage, Addie has had three centuries to adjust to the consequences, and yet it never gets easier. Everyone around her forgets her as soon as she leaves their sight (quite literally out of sight, out of mind!) – until she meets sweet bookseller Henry, and they engage in a wonderfully mundane (and heart-wrenching) romance. But not all is as it seems – namely, mundane may be the wrong choice of word here – and Addie is soon faced with even more difficult decisions…
I can’t stop gushing about how beautifully written this book is. It’s descriptive and visual and such a TREAT to both my reader’s as well as my English graduate’s heart. I have no doubt that, if Victoria wasn’t already well-established as a fantasy writer, Addie LaRue would be classed as literary fiction. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a fantasy writer – it would just reach a completely new readership. And it’s not just the lyrical writing style that makes me want to push this book into the hands of those who may normally stick up their noses at fantasy books – the characters and theme of the book also add to its genre-defying appeal.
Addie’s life, from the moment she strikes that godforsaken deal, revolves around her desire to leave a mark in the world. With everyone forgetting her as soon as they exit the room, how is she ever supposed to make a difference in someone’s life? How can she, who walks the earth nigh-on invisibly, change history? The devil/evil spirit, often referred to as the darkness, does his best to prove Addie’s insignificance to her, and I found her struggle to realise how and why she matters not only relatable, but real. Don’t we all like to think we have left a legacy? Made someone’s life just a little bit better? Be remembered after we’re gone?
As you can probably tell, I fell in love with Addie’s character – she is determined, and witty, and makes mistakes and then takes ownership of them. She is warm and loving, brave, and apparently attracts cats that usually despise any and all human beings. I desperately want her to be my friend, to go to art exhibitions, get hot coffee and fresh croissants, and find tattered copies of The Iliad in second-hand bookshops. You’d never have a dull day with Addie because she makes the most of every minute.
And then there’s Henry. Henry, whose parents and siblings are notoriously disappointed in him, who ended up working in (or, more like, running) a bookshop when he quit university, who gets dumped for being too sweet, too attached, for having bad days. I think Henry embodies the struggles many readers face (or maybe that’s just me, in which case – ignore): he feels too much, cares too much, and the world won’t allow him to be as he is. He’s relatable on that account, but even more so because he is a bookseller! Although I have just quit my bookseller job (for even more exciting career updates), you never quite leave being a bookseller behind. There’s one quote in particular that really struck a cord with me:
Henry would rather be a story-keeper than a story-teller.– The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (ARC), VE Schwab
Now, let me tell you why I love this quote so much: I graduated this summer with an English literature degree, and the amount of people who assume that this degree comes with some sort of mandatory creative writing talent… Don’t get me wrong – many of my classmates did write. Personally, I have neither the skill nor the will (oh, it rhymes!) to write. I want to work in publishing, to work with books, because I love stories and I get excited and I want to bring the best, the most important tales to readers everywhere. And that’s exactly what I see in this quote. (I’m very VERY tempted to get a related tattoo.)
So you see, Addie LaRue really spoke to me. It’s quite the emotional journey so you better prepare! And I hope you’ll love it as much as I do when it is published on 6th October (I may have pre-ordered two copies already…)!