Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, Victoria Schwab has created a truly beautiful feminist fantasy. Born in the fictional Villon-sur-Sarthe in 1691, Adeline Larue loves to go the market in Le Mans with her father, since it gives her a window into a larger world. She loves to draw, to dream. She also avidly follows the tutelage of Estele, wise-woman ("spells are for witches, and witches are too often burned") of their small village. Estele, a pagan of sorts living in a Catholic era, teaches Addie about praying to the fickle old gods with offerings and such, but warns her "the old gods may be great but they are neither kind nor merciful" and that, no matter how desperate she may become, to "never pray to the gods that answer after dark." Alas, as she matures, Addie's increasingly restrictive life at the hands of her mother, who derisively calls her "a dreamer," leaves her vulnerable to just such prayers. Faced with a marriage she cannot bear to enter, Addie makes a bargain with the Night itself, or whatever god there is that embodies the night, in order to avoid marrying. And so begins the invisible life she will live for hundreds of years, for in bargaining for her freedom, she inadvertently barters away her ability to be remembered by others, to say her own name, to draw, or to leave any mark on the world. It is a terrible form of freedom, and yet, Addie will ultimately master it, with the artistry of her life driven to its pinnacle when she meets Henry, a bookseller in NYC who can, against all odds, remember her.

This is such a lovely novel, rich in provoking thoughts about life, freedom, attachments, and the role that art and culture play in creating a record of lives lived. Schwab gives us an Addie who creates a life outside of the bitterness and anger that the god of Night hopes will spur her to surrender, whose zest for learning and new experiences comes to outweigh many of her losses. The ambitious scope of the novel pays off splendidly, and best of all, she gives the reader an optimistic conclusion.

I also listened to the audiobook, which is beautifully narrated by Julia Whelan.

Este libro estará disponible en español en diciembre de 2020.

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