Addie LaRue Is a Dreamer
Her name is Adeline "Addie" LaRue, and in 1714, she makes a desperate bid for a better life. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab tells the story of an 18th century dreamer who makes a deal with darkness.
She receives immortality, eternal youth, and, to her dismay, anonymity. No one except the god who cursed her will ever be able to remember her or say her name. We follow Addie and the god Luc through three centuries in this historical fantasy romance.
Addie’s journey is about emotional survival, finding legacy in art, and testing the loopholes of her Faustian bargain.
Did You Catch This Hidden Truth?
I have read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue twice this year. It is the type of book I could read 25 times and still see something new every time. During my last read, I discovered a hidden truth in the text. Luc returns Addie’s soul, ending their Faustian bargain, but she has no idea. This truth is so hidden that it is almost impossible for readers to notice.
The First Clue
From the beginning, I was interested in Addie’s ring as a potential symbol or object of importance in the plot. I am a fan of annotating books, and I began marking every page with the ring and highlighting ring-specific quotes.
Soon, The Secret of the Ring Became Clear as Day
When I finished reading, I reviewed all of my annotations about the ring, and that is when I saw the truth: Luc backed out of the deal for Addie's soul when he returned the ring.
Here's the Textual Proof
Below, I will take you on the same journey through the text, looking at the five most important quotes about the ring. My goal is to prove to you that Luc ends his bargain with Addie, and she has no idea.
Note: I am reading from the hardcover Special Edition. You page numbers may be slightly different.
The Five Quotes You Need to Know
First, it is essential to understand the origin of the ring.
- You will need to reread page 25 in Part 1 from "Chapter III Villon-sur-Sarthe, France / Summer 1698."
It is a ring.
She wears it on a leather cord around her neck, a delicate band, the wood ash gray, and smooth as polished stone. He carved it when she was born, made for the girl she’d one day be, and Adeline wears it like a talisman, an amulet, a key. Her hand goes to it now and then, thumb running over the surface the way her mother’s runs over a rosary.
When Addie calls on the gods for help, she makes an offering of her ring. Luc answers her prayer. The ring disappears in his hands, apparently destroyed. But the question we need to ask here is, Is it really gone?
- To read this scene, head to page 45 in Part 1 from "Chapter III Villon-sur-Sarthe, France / July 29, 1914."
“My dear," says the darkness, taking the ring, "I do not deal in trinkets."
The wooden band crumbles in his hand, and falls away, nothing more than smoke.
In present day New York City, Addie ponders her ring. A memory of Luc surfaces. He says something very odd about the debt between them. This is a major clue. How did Addie get her ring back? How is she "even" with Luc?
- Check out page 59 in Part 1 from "Chapter XII / New York City, March 10, 2014."
And every time her fingers skim the wood, she feels the darkness kissing her knuckle as he slides the band back on.
See? Now we are even.
Addie strolls a stormy beach, reading The Tempest by William Shakespeare when Luc appears. They take shelter in a nearby church. There, Luc shows Addie a soul and reveals that he still has her wooden ring.
- This moment takes place on page 313 in Part Five from "Chapter III “Fécamp, France / July 29, 1778."
The light twists, and shifts, the orb flattening into a disk. And then a ring. Her ring.
The Tempest Reference Is Critically Important
Shakespeare’s play ends when the powerful, magical protagonist gives up power and chooses reconciliation. In Addie’s story, Luc is the most powerful and magical. The play reference invites us to draw even more parallels. So, let's imagine that reconciliation is Luc’s end goal. To reconcile with Addie, he must return the rights to her soul. One way to do that is by returning the original offering: the ring.
Luc returns the ring, admitting he never destroyed it. He does not explain that he is giving Addie her soul back, but he leaves a hint by saying, "we're even."
- See page 365 in Part Six from "Chapter I, Villon-sur-Sarthe / July 29, 1914."
She does not look up, and that is why she sees it, rolling toward her on the table. A slim band, carved of pale ash wood.
It is a ring.
It is her ring.
The gift she made to the dark that night.
The gift he scorned, and turned to smoke.
The image conjured in a seaside church.
* * *
“Put it on, and I will come.” Luc leans back in his chair, the night breeze blowing through those raven curls. “There,” he says. “Now we are even.”
Using Analogy to Understand the Five Quotes
A financial analogy helps immensely with understanding how Addie repossesses her soul. I like to picture loan forgiveness.
- Back in 1714, Addie gave her ring as down payment for a deal with a god.
- Luc answered, took her ring as good faith for their covenant, and granted Addie immortality.
- Later, he planned to collect her soul as the single principal payment, no interest. They agreed it would be due the moment she got tired of immortality and surrendered.
- Instead of calling in the debt, he cancels it. He even gives Addie the ring (her downpayment) back as his show of good faith.
Do You See It Now?
The truth is heavily veiled. V.E. Schwab does not make unearthing this secret easy for us readers. The good news is, I am very confident in my theory. In June 2022, V.E. Schwab shared my reel about this theory on her Instagram stories, implying that I got it right. The reel was popular, amassing over 32,000 views, 600 likes, and 80 comments.
Will the Movie Adaptation Focus On the Ring?
A movie adaptation of the book is in the works. I am excited to see how the cast and crew portray the ring on the big screen and if Luc’s decision to return Addie’s soul will be more obvious in live action. I hope so!
What do you think?
© 2022 Sara Everett