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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue


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Book Review

Addie LaRue wanted nothing to do with the 18th century life set before her, so she made a deal with a devil. Now she will live forever … and be cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Plot Summary

“I do not want to belong to someone else,” young Adeline LaRue declared on the eve of her wedding in 1714.  “I do not want to belong to anyone but myself. I want to be free. Free to live, and to find my own way, to love, or to be alone, but at least it is my choice, and I am so tired of not having choices.”

Addie cried out these words in the darkness. She had been whispering similar phrases and offering small tributes to the gods—which is how she had been taught you deal with them—for the days leading up to her forced marriage to an older widower. But it was only this night that someone—no, something answered.

It congealed out of the depths of the dark forest shadows. And took on the face of the man she had been imagining and sketching for a long time: the man she dreamed could one day be her love. But in spite of his dark, curly hair, square jaw and flashing green eyes, this was no man to love. He was no man at all.

Whether god or demon, though, it mattered not. For he had heard Addie’s plea, he had heard her say she would “give anything.” But this nameless and shadowy figure didn’t trade in small, sacrificed tokens and valued objects: He dealt in souls. And he offered a deal to the desperate young woman.

Addie would have her freedom. No one would own her. She could explore the world beyond the borders of her provincial French village. She could seek out anything and everything she wanted. She would not age. Her flesh would endure, her life go on. And all she had to do was hand over her soul when she was tired of living her life.

Addie quickly agreed to the bargain. And with a brief kiss, laced with the copper taste of blood, it was done.

What that disappearing vestige of a man did not mention, however, was that a young woman running the streets in 18th century France would not live an easy life. She would still feel the pains of frigid cold, the harshness of human hands, and the anguish of hunger, even if she could not die from them.

He also didn’t mention that part of being “free” and having “no one own her” was the fact that no one would ever remember her.

Her family and friends saw her only as a stranger. In fact, anyone who met her and turned away, even for a moment, would quickly forget her. Addie could no longer even give voice to her own name.

The world would never know Addie LaRue. She would always be nothing more than a cursed and forgotten stranger.

You can see how the demon hoped things would play out for a simple French girl who could barely read and had nothing but the clothes on her back. He surely believed he could count on claiming his bargained-for prize quickly.

But Addie LaRue isn’t someone who cowers and gives up easily, especially when she feels wronged. She adapts. Her life will be painful and harsh. But she has known harshness before. And with time—the one thing her miserable bargain does guarantee—she will make do.

Addie will endure. And she may even beat this creature of darkness at his own game.

Christian Beliefs

In 2014, someone quotes Matthew 25:35—”I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

There is mention of a “new” god that Addie’s parents worship. Although there’s little said about that faith, it’s implied that this new God is the God of the Bible. …

Other Belief Systems

… More is said, however, about the “old” gods.

Addie learns from a weathered old woman about praying to and leaving small sacrifices for these elusive deities.

“The old gods may be great, but they are neither kind nor merciful,” the old woman tells her. “They are fickle, unsteady as moonlight on water, or shadows in a storm. If you insist on calling them, take heed: be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price. And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”

That, however, is exactly what Addie ends up doing and she finds herself entangled in a devilish creature’s web. “I am stronger than your god and older than your devil,” it tells her. In fact, as the years stretch on, Addie and this creature, who she eventually names “Luc,” develop a relationship. They begin meeting on the yearly anniversary of their deal. At first Luc is menacing, manipulative, and duplicitous, but with time he becomes more playful and flirtatious in his approach.

Luc makes a deal with someone else that Addie meets: Henry. That deal is thought of as a curse as well.

Authority Roles

Eventually, Addie is able to use the above-mentioned relationship with Luc to her advantage. For while she begins to read the demon’s moods and wants, Luc is less able to understand her human ways. “He never learned to read her cunning, or her cleverness, never learned to read the nuances of her actions, the subtle rhythms of her speech,” the book tells us. Furthermore, the novel suggests that all of those things are a woman’s strength.

Addie’s parents aren’t always consistent in her life (before they forget her altogether). Her father is a beloved figure and lovingly kind, but he doesn’t stand up for her at a most important juncture. And Addie’s mom wants to push Addie into the expected role of wife and mother.

As Addie adapts to her new “forgettable” existence, she begins doing whatever it takes to survive. Much of that involves lying and stealing. She devises methods to steal clothes and food and break into the apartments and homes of others.

In 2014, Addie meets Henry, a guy who has made a deal with Luc, too. But their curses tend to cancel each other out and Henry can remember Addie.

After the many loses and hardships of Addie’s very long life, Henry asks her: “Were the moments of beauty worth the years of pain?” And she answers, “Always!”

Profanity & Violence

The story jumps back and forth between the early 1700s and 2014. In the latter date, the language becomes much coarser with uses of f- and s-words, along with “a–” and “a–hole.”

Addie and friends drink beer, wine and hard alcohol. Henry struggles with depression, and he talks of having consumed illicit drugs as well as alcohol to numb those dark feelings.

Soon after making her deal with Luc, Addie’s life tends to be hellish. She can’t stay dead from the painful things in her life, but she endures quite a lot of them. She freezes to death during a winter night in Paris, for instance, and then “reawakes” the next morning beneath the stacked bodies of the dead. She walks around famished and starving. She’s physically abused and slashed with blades.

Sexual Content

Sexuality is looked upon as a relatively casual thing in Addie’s life. She sells her virginity for a few coins (it’s described) and then recounts affairs she’s had with both men and women. We see her waking with people she’s had sex with. Some of them she’d slept with repeatedly over the course of weeks or months, but none of them remember her upon waking, so she must seduce them again or simply walk away.

Several of Addie’s sexual encounters are described in flowing prose. And, for that matter, in 2014, most people in Addie’s life are pretty sexually fluid. Several of Henry’s friends are gay and one is in love with him. (It’s implied they may have had sex.) He tells of meeting a couple who look at him lustfully and invite him to have a threesome (which he agrees to).

Discussion Topics


Additional Comments

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a very interesting and compelling fantasy tale that raises big overarching questions about the choices we make in the course of life and the value of small, sincere and loving moments.

That said, this popular YA title takes a very relaxed view on sexuality of all stripes. It plays with the idea of dark, spiritual things. And its language is very coarse at times.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose