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.
I’ve struggled for a while with how to review this one because while I did enjoy it quite a lot it also failed to live up to the hype for me which ultimately left me feeling just a tad disappointed.
On its surface this book has a lot of things that are in my wheelhouse – immortal beings, romance, a little bit of darkness to the tale. But those elements together weren’t enough for me because I had a hard time with a) the prose — which kind of felt a bit pretentious if I’m being honest and b) the structure of the book. Now, here’s the thing, I don’t mind flashbacks! I don’t mind them at all. But when it’s every few pages you’re bouncing back and forth it causes a bit of whiplash. I actually did enjoy all the little vignettes of flashbacks and I totally loved the individual things they highlighted as well as the emotions they evoked. On their own I think they would have made for an interesting short if some of them have been strung together. Interspersed with the modern day storyline, the way they kept on interrupting the narrative, was a little annoying. Sometimes I can get over this and eventually I did get used to this structure, so I’m not quite sure why it left me so annoyed. Maybe because along with the prose it just felt like the author was trying too hard. And that feels like a really harsh thing to say and I know that’s probably not what happened here (I really do love Schwab) but…that’s just how I felt while reading it.
Luckily, those were my two major criticisms and now that I got those out of the way we can talk about what I loved. What I loved–the character of Addie. I just absolutely loved how stubborn she is, every time she’s confronted with something that might make her give in, she just digs her heels in even further. She’s committed to this wish she made, even if it’s not exactly what she envisaged, she’s not about to give it up and let someone else win. Because what’s presented here is a battle over Addie’s soul. There’s a great question about not only identity but owning that identity. Addie may be invisible but she’s found her way to make a mark on the world nonetheless. Henry is an interesting character as well, although I feel like he paled in comparison to Addie and her shine. Addie is like a force of nature, a beacon of light, and Henry is drawn to her like so many others. Although, for Addie, Henry is that beacon. While you’re learning about Henry what eventually comes out is her further history with Luc, the immortal entity that granted her wish. I don’t really get this character of Luc. On the one hand I do love him because hot immortal with a darkness (literally), hell yes sign me up. On the other hand he is just as capricious as you’d expect him to be. And don’t ever expect him to be anything different. Addie’s relationship with him was one of the more intriguing parts of the story.
I don’t want to say too much else and give away too many things, but at the end of the story I’m not quite sure what to think about it. Did Addie grow? Maybe. But she’s still, if nothing else, relentlessly stubborn. And maybe it’s the determination that will see her through to where ever she decides to go in life. 3.5/5 stars.