Book review and synopsis for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, a whimsical fantasy-romance about a young woman who makes a deal with the devil.
SynopsisIn The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Addie LaRue is a young woman who trades her soul for immortality and a life of freedom. She will can live forever, but no one can remember her. It's a bargain she strikes with the devil out of desperation and a desire for more. Three hundred years later, Addie has learned to survive, but is still living a mostly invisible existence. Then, she walks into a small New York City bookstore, and meets a man who can remember her name and face.
(The Detailed Plot Summary is also available, below)
Detailed Plot SummarySection-by-Section SummarySee the Section-by-Section Summary of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueQuick Plot Summary
The book switches between the past and the present to tell this story.
In Part One, we meet Adeline "Addie" LaRue, who was born over 300 years ago, in Villon, a small french village. A local woman, Estele, taught her about the old gods, but warned her not to call on them after dark. Estele also told her she had seven freckles, one for each man she would love some day.
In 1714, Addie is 23 and engaged, but she longs to be free. As she prays to the old gods, the night falls and the devil answers. Addie asks to live freely and to have more time. As a gift, she offers her favorite possession, a carved wooden ring, but the devil rejects it. Instead, she offers the devil her soul when she is done with it, and he accepts. She is given eternal life, but no one can remember her (she wanted to "live freely"). As soon as she leaves their sight, they forget her.
In present day, Addie survives by stealing and sneaking into others' apartments to sleep. She can't give people her real name or tell her story. She also cannot keep a home or keep possessions. The exception is a wooden ring, which she cannot get rid of. She walks into a used bookstore to steal a book, but is caught by the clerk, Henry. But he lets her take it anyway.
In Part Two, the devil appears yearly, each time asking Addie if she's ready to relinquish her life and her soul. Each time, she declines. He takes on the form and name, Luc, of an imaginary stranger Addie once daydreamed about. Addie learns to survive and navigate her new world. In present day, Addie sees Henry again, who recognizes her, and they go on a date.
In Parts Three & Four, Addie continues to see Henry. When Henry's friends don't recognize her, Addie tells him the truth about her bargain with the devil. To her surprise, Henry admits to Addie that he, too, made a deal with the devil a year ago. After getting his heartbroken, he asks to be loved in exchange for his soul. Since then, everyone sees him as whatever they want to see. His exes ask for a second chance and he's offered a job he's completely unqualified for. He realizes that people love him, but they also don't really see him. It's not real love. But Addie seems to genuinely see him.
In Part Five, Henry begins to write down Addie's story, with Addie dictating. Meanwhile, in the past, the book describes Addie and Luc's relationship over the course of over a hundred years from the 1700s to the end of the 1800s. Addie travels across Europe, with Luc visiting usually on July 29, but he skips some years. He occasionally will rescue her from a sticky situation, claiming he wants to be the one to break her. Or he'll whisk her off to some place. Addie accuses him of being lonely and in want of company.
In Part Six, in 1914, Luc admits to liking Addie's company and gives her a wooden ring so she can call on him. She finally uses it in 1944 when she gets captured during WWII. When he comes to visit in 1952, he admits to wanting her. They end up in an affair which lasts for years, and Addie falls for him. He says he loves her. In 1980, Addie asks Luc to release her from her deal. He says it requires her to surrender, and Addie lashes out at him and they fight. Luc doesn't appear again for 40 years.
In the present, Addie learns that Henry's deal was only for a year. After that, he'll die. He has a month left. Addie calls on Luc to beg him to change his deal with Henry. Luc refuses until Addie promises herself to him in exchange for releasing Henry. Luc accepts.
In Part Seven, Henry lives and writes a book based on the stories that Addie has told him. He publishes the book, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, as fiction and without an author. Luc thinks he's won, but Addie knows that her new deal only requires her to stay with him for as long as he desires. Addie plans to break his heart and drive him away.
For more detail, see the full Section-by-Section Summary.