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Book Review: "The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue" endures spectacularly


When novelist Victoria Schwab announced her newest novel, “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue,” I was skeptical. I mean, how could anything top the magical, world-walking pirates and royals of her Shade of Magic series or the anti-superheroes of her This Savage Song duology? I waited weeks before even reading a Goodreads review, secretly hoping the novel wouldn’t live up to the hype so I wouldn’t get emotionally attached to, yet another, character written by Schwab.


How wrong I was.


Schwab hits the bullseye once again with her October release. This novel is definitely a huge leap from her morally-gray superheroes and world-walking pirates, yet the slowburn romance and magical realism of “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” gets the stamp of approval in my book.


Addie LaRue was born in 17th century France, dreaming of a life beyond her small town and the suffocating social confines of her time. She ends up getting her wish of leaving at the cost of no one remembering her — no one except for herself and the omnipotent god she made the deal with. Trading your soul for immortality isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, as Addie learns.


Readers follow Addie’s misadventures through time all over the world as she tries to be remembered by someone. Although she can’t leave a mark on life, she finds a loophole — planting ideas into the minds of artists and becoming the mysterious muse of painters, musicians and photographers across time.


Then, after three hundred years of being constantly forgotten, someone remembers her.


Henry’s normal life as a bookstore clerk is seemingly upended when Addie tries and fails to steal a book from him. Unlike every person on the planet, besides Addie and her fickle god, Henry remembers her.


And thus, Addie finds another loophole to ease the loneliness of her immortality.

Schwab effortlessly weaves in-and-out of Addie’s immortal life and Henry’s mortal one without so much as a blink. The book explores the jarring reality of loneliness and the terror of being seen, particularly within familial and romantic relationships.


I can’t tell you the number of times I had to put down this book so I could process Schwab reaching out and touching something so wholly human in me. Like Addie, I felt seen by Schwab’s exploration of existence, legacy and loneliness.


Oh, and the slowburn romance, my god. I didn’t expect to be shedding tears and clutching my chest, but Schwab builds up a romance that spans the passage of time beautifully.


Additionally, Schwab normalizes both main character’s queerness without tokenizing their experiences to fit into the “mildly diverse” category of fiction that seems all too prominent right now.


The book’s pacing was a bit slow in the beginning, and although essential to the latter three-fourths of the novel, much of the first quarter was forgettable and I definitely had to flip to the beginning a few times to remember a tedious detail.


By far the most wondrous detail of the novel is Addie’s relationship with art throughout her 323 years of existence. Sections of the novel are broken up by works of art and descriptions that reveal a sliver of Addie’s life and influence on the art world. She becomes an enigma in the art world, a mysterious muse for dozens of artists across time as she tries to leave a semblance of herself on the world.


With every little section divider, the pressing feeling to be understood and seen mounts to become something more than just a clever detail, but as a moment for readers to look at themselves in the mirror and ask, “How will I be remembered?”


I’m glad I decided to prove myself wrong with this book. “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” blossoms beautifully and as readers realize they’ve been part of Addie’s story all along, there is something magical that sparks the need to be seen and understood beyond the confines of our own little lives. Schwab pulls off the ultimate magic trick by reaching into our souls and speaking the truths and fears we carry with us, no matter where in time. Like Addie, we all wish to be seen and remembered, and I will definitely remember Addie’s mostly invisible life.


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