I’m not losing my mind over this book, but it was a really engaging, thoughtful read. I really wish it hadn’t been written in present tense, though. Unlike my recent experience with reading The Searcher by Tana French, I noticed that was the POV immediately. I enjoyed the book despite that.
I think you should go in to this book as unspoiled as possible, so I’m not going to detail the plot, except for the beginning, which shows us Adeline LaRue, an 18th century French peasant on the day of her wedding, who desperately (and accidentally) prays to a dark god to escape her marriage, and to have enough time. Because he’s a dark god (heavily implied to be Lucifer, although I’m really not convinced), he twists the bargain and Addie becomes immortal, but no one can remember her, except the dark god. The rest of the book alternates between present day, when things change for her for the first time in 300 years, and flashbacks of the last 300 years.
Some spoilers below, but for those who haven’t read the book, I will finish out by saying this book was completely immersive and I finished it very fast. It’s one of those books that makes you forget you’re you, and just puts you in the story for however long you’re reading it. (If, that is, it vibrates on your level. There are going to be a lot of people who jab at this book for being whatever it is they don’t like about it, but bottom line: books with strong points of view are always going to have people who don’t like them, and that’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean the book is bad.) A highlight of my 2020 reading, just for the experience of it, though not a favorite.
SPOILERS I have seen a lot A LOT of people talking about and/or complaining about the “romances” in this book. I viewed neither of Addie’s relationships with Henry or Luc as romances, and I think the book is lesser if you do view those relationships in that light. This is first and foremost a book about Addie’s struggle with her own fear of death and of being forgotten, and of having a small life with few choices. Most people fear these things, but most people don’t make deals with dark gods to avoid them. Addie has strong relationships with both men in the book, but I would argue that neither is based on love, not real romantic love anyway.
Addie’s relationship with Luc is all kinds of fucked up. He’s not human, and he doesn’t feel human emotions. She spends most of her life as his adversary, before giving in to him out what I saw as loneliness, and a desire to connect with someone who understood her life’s circumstances. To be seen at all, even if it was by the man who made her so lonely in the first place. Even at the end when she agrees to be with him, it’s only when she bargains to be his equal and partner that she allows it to happen, and it’s strongly implied this is not a decision based in love, either, and that she will take the opportunity to outplay him and defeat him in the end if it appears. And in the meantime, she won’t be alone. He tells her he loves her, but she always responds that what he’s feeling is not love, but possession and desire and who knows what else.
As for Henry, this is also a relationship based on the relief of loneliness, and the ability for her to truly connect with another human being for the first time in 300 years. They also have a lot in common, because Henry, too, has been cursed by Luc (I really hope you are only reading this if you’ve already read the book, because whoops, lots of spoilers), so a lot if not most of their relationship is built solely on the relief of the burdens of their respective curses being lifted. Henry has in Addie someone who sees him for him, and not the curse of false love everyone else sees him through, and Addie can actually talk to someone who will remember her when she leaves the room. For the first time in 300 years, she can build a relationship built on shared memories END SPOILERS.
There were a lot of existential themes built into this book, as well as thoughts on art and time and human connection. I think it’s definitely worth a go, and I will be re-reading it in the future. (The physical copy is also gorgeous. I’m loving this trend of having gold embossing on book covers.)