France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
Yes, time for another Susan and Becky Buddy Read! This was Susan’s first Schwab book so when she messaged me asking me to wait for her so we could read together I had to say yes right? Anyway time zones etc etc I will link to Susan’s review once it has gone live.
I had high expectations for this book, I went into Addie as a fervent Schwab fan after having devoured her ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ series, and while the two couldn’t be more different, Addie LaRue wormed her way into my heart and soul. I don’t think I’ve ever resonated with a character so much, someone easily forgotten, who lives on the outskirts of society passing every day without making an impact. Addie will always hold a special place in my heart and I know that this is a book that I will return to multiple times.
“When Adeline told the girl about her trip, Isabelle had only shrugged, and said, ‘I like it here.’ As if you couldn’t like one place and want to see another.”
Addie doesn’t want the life planned out for her. She doesn’t simply want to be a wife and mother, never leaving the little town of Villon she has spent all her life in. She knows there are creatures she can make bargains with, but non seem to be listening to her pleas. In an act of desperation, the day of her wedding Addie does the one thing she promised never to do, she wishes to the creatures of the night… and they answer. What follows is the story of a girl who has to learn to adjust to a new world. A world where women are seen as property, where a young girl travelling by herself gives off the wrong idea, and to a world where no one remembers you. Addie learns to traverse this new world, meandering through the years, decades, centuries never leaving so much as a fingerprint until one fateful day when she meets a young man… and her remembers her.
“I remember you.’ Three words, large enough to tip the world. I remember you.”
There are no words to describe how much I loved this book. It was beautiful, bittersweet and heart breaking. Addie’s story resonated with me in a way I struggled to put into words, let alone comprehend. She is unbelievably strong willed, resilient, yet vulnerable and I wonder whether I would have had her strength of character if I were in the same position. She spends so long pondering over whether she should just give in, but she is stubborn to a fault and no matter how much life throws at her she refuses to give into Luc, unwilling to let him win. When she meets Henry and he remembers her my heart leapt with joy, and suspicion. Why now? Why could this one boy remember her when so many others hadn’t? Henry is an enigma in of himself, he is a boy who lives every day as if it is his last, always moving, needing new experiences and simply wanting to spend time with his friends and loved ones. And finally we have Luc, the devil in Addie’s story. I found myself strangely drawn to him, much like Addie herself. A part of me wanted him to be the redeemable ‘bad boy’, but another part realised the inevitability of their story. They are the two people in their lives that know the truth of the other, he is the only one who remembers Addie and he uses that weakness, endearing himself to her, making her yearn for the familiar. He believes he loves Addie, when he really loves the knowledge that being the one person who can say her name will always give him the ability to hold a power over her. That is until Henry.
“But it is a lonely thing, to be forgotten. To remember when no one else does, I remember, whispers the darkness, almost kindly, as if he’s not the one who cursed her.”
Addie’s story is shown to us through her present eye as well as flashbacks, some of which showed just how heart breaking her story is, and others showed her strength of will and reluctance to give into Luc’s deal. Schwab also uses the flashbacks to give us little clues that hint at how Addie’s story was going to end. We also get to see Henry’s POV as well as flashbacks to the past year of his life before he met Addie. We as the reader don’t realise how entwined their stories are until we hear Henry’s truth. They are polar opposites in more way than one, but it is their similarities that draw them to each other. This is such a hard book to talk about without giving away major spoilers, but I will say that Henry’s story and POV are pivotal to the ending of Addie’s story.
“Addie has woken up a hundred ways. To frost forming on her skin, and a sun so hot it should have burned. To empty places, and ones that should have been. To wars raging overhead, and the ocean rocking against the hull. To sirens, and city noise, and silence, and once, a snake coiled by her head. But Henry Strauss wakes her with kisses.”
I have been a fan of Schwab’s writing style for a while now but Addie took it to a whole new level. The writing was delectable, lyrical and has the ability to completely drag you into the story. It takes a special kind of writer and story to not only put you into the book but to have you resonate with the characters that much that you not only feel what they feel, but you become that character. I became Addie when reading this book, I found myself detached from my surroundings, almost taking a step back from my life. And once I finished it took me a long while to get back to normal, to fully appreciate the strength in being known, in being able to make an imprint, however small, on someone’s life, of someone knowing my name.
“Being forgotten, she thinks, is a bit like going mad. You begin to wonder what is real, if you are real. After all, how can a thing be real if it cannot be remembered? It’s like that Zen Koan, the one about the tree falling in the woods. If no one heard it, did it happen? If a person cannot leave a mark, do they exist?”
Though the ending to Addie may have seemed inevitable, I still spent the whole book praying that it might end differently. Some people (Susan) may say the ending was left a little open but I loved the ambiguity of it. The feeling that I could be walking down the street one day and see a girl with seven freckles on her face, a constellation, when I would mutter the worlds, I remember Addie.
“Do you know how you live three hundred years?’ she says. and when he asks how, she smiles. ‘The same way you live one. A second at a time.”