By V.E. Schwab
Published October 2020
I’m a little late to the game on this one, but I kept hearing about this novel so I finally broke down and read it.
If you’re one of the few who have no idea what the novel is about, the synopsis is short and sweet.
Adeline (Addie) LaRue dreams of more than her life in a small village in early 18th century France. On the eve of her wedding, she makes a deal with a dark god: her soul for a life of freedom. Like most deals made with otherworldly beings, this one has a twist. Not only is Addie immortal, but she’s forgotten by everyone she meets as soon as they leave her presence. She’s forced to live as a ghost for three hundred years, unable to do anything to mark her presence. Until the day she meets Henry Strauss, who doesn’t forget her from one meeting to the next.
Any more and I’ll throw out spoilers, but that’s the gist of the novel. The premise is intriguing and for the first hundred pages or so, I was prepared to give this novel five stars. I adored it and honestly, tried to read it in one sitting. But at almost 450 pages, that was a no-go.
About halfway through the book, I started wondering if there was going to be an entirely new story line popping up. Henry’s point of view did join Addie’s, which was a nice change, but from that point on, the pacing began to drag.
The book is written in a dual-timeline format, jumping back and forth from 1714 France (working forward through Addie’s life) to 2014 New York City. It doesn’t take long for the reader to get the gist of Addie’s existence and while the first several years of her immortal life help to flesh out details, after about a hundred years, the story began to repeat itself. There was very little tension for a good third of the book, Addie simply told us about her life in a different year, sometimes different country, and different historic situation. Her battle with Luc (the dark god who cursed her) continued on decade after decade with only minimal change and her manner of using men one day at a time didn’t alter, either. I suppose that was to show how she became a muse for many artists, but it all blended together with none of these encounters standing out from the others.
Not only did I not need a blow by blow every fifty years or so of Addie’s life, I also didn’t need all of the nitty-gritty details of Henry’s life after he made his own deal with Luc. In a nutshell, it was a long book. The author probably could have cut 100 pages and the story wouldn’t have suffered for it. In this case, less would have been more.
Two last things and I’ll wrap up this review. Authorial intrusion was alive and well in this book. It popped up over and over again in statements like, “Addie wouldn’t know for fifty years…,” or “It would take her ten years to realize…”, or some other similar statement that pulled me out of the story. Lastly, by the conclusion of the novel, my sympathies were more with Luc than Addie. I wish the ending had been different because since her attitude toward Luc never changed, it flattened her character arc and left me with a very unsympathetic impression of her.
While I started with a five-star rating in mind, I finished with a solid 3 stars. ⭐⭐⭐
There was a lot to like in this book, but also a lot that could have been left out.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
My rating system:
5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.
4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.
3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.
2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.
One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.Antonio Porchia