Addie LaRue is a young woman in rural France, who wants so much more than this provincial life. To escape the life laid out before her, she makes a deal with the devil, trading her soul for immortality, and the chance to have no obligations whatsoever. But where there’s a deal, there’s a price, and Addie is cursed to be forgotten by everyone who meets her.
Addie’s life starts in 18th Century France, and her life takes her from France, to England, over to the US. Unable to hold onto anything, she learns to live right at the edges of life, hiding when she needs to, forming a relationship with the only person who ever remembers her, the same devil she made the deal with. Until in 21st Century New York, she meets someone who remembers her.
I first heard Schwab talk about Addie at an event for the re-release of The Near Witch, and since then I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book. Luckily for me, Titan approved my NetGalley request, and I think I possibly screamed for joy with that email.
So yes, this is possibly my most anticipated book of 2020. And it really did not disappoint.
My heart broke for Addie, for the situations she found herself in, for the way she kept persisting and trying to make some mark in the world. It’s a terrible thing, to be completely forgotten, and a fear I expect many humans have, one Schwab captures brilliantly.
The emotions here are raw and powerful, as Addie introduces herself to people over and over, as she explores love and desire and relationships in a way others do not have to, and as she watches the world move on and on and on while she remains unchanging.
The main drawback – which other reviewers have expanded on and discussed more elegantly than I – is the complete focus on the Western World. Addie remains fixed in France, UK, and the US, and although she has lived for 300 years there is no mention of the atrocities committed by those three countries in that time, though it does touch upon the French Revolution, briefly. I understand why – the book is already 560 pages, with a timeline split between past and present. But it is a very white lens. Again, I understand the reasonings behind remaining away from these topics, and I get that with Addie’s situation, travelling anywhere will be difficult without possibly being thrown overboard on a ship. Or being stopped at security in an airport, etc. It would have added further complications that there isn’t room for. HOWEVER, it’s important to note this is a Fantasy – Addie could have travelled further afield and still have it realistic.
However (again!) my feeling is that Schwab kept the story in these particular places as they are where she spends most of her time, and are the places she is most familiar with. It’s hard not to get the impression Schwab really did bleed onto the page for this one, pouring a lot of herself into the character of Addie.
This book left me with a killer hangover. It packed a punch, the emotions folded into the pages like blankets, carefully laid out, the romance element strong, and the relationship between Addie and the devil absolutely fascinating. I adored this book, truly, despite its flaws, and as always, I cannot wait to see what Schwab comes out with next.