A Deal with the Devil…300 Years Later
Addie Larue is a woman who made a deal with the devil. When she was twenty-three years old, living in a small village in France, and about to be forced into a marriage arranged by her parents, she prayed to “the gods that answer after dark.” When such a god responded, she told him, “I do not want to belong to anyone but myself. I want to be free, free to live, and to find my own way, to love, or to be alone…” In response to how much time she wanted to live like that, she tells the devil, “Take my life when I am done with it. You can have my soul when I don’t want it anymore.”
Of course, since the devil is the devil, he can make her life so miserable that she would be done with her soul sooner instead of later. But be that as it may, Addie and the devil strike their deal on July 29, 1714.
The book then shows Addie’s life over the next 300 years. Chapters alternate between New York City in 2014 and flashbacks to the years of Addie’s life leading up to it. Most chapters in the past take place on July 29th of a given year since the devil tends to visit her with each anniversary. He hopes she’s suffered enough misery, and that she is done with her soul. Instead, she is never ready to give it up, which the devil begins to admire over the centuries.
The striking thing about Addie’s life is that the freedom she asked for – to belong only to herself – means that no one knows her, and people who meet her do not remember her once they leave her presence. The immediate implication is that her parents and fellow townspeople do not know her. This forces her out into the world alone.
Just imagine what an uncommon and unacceptable thing this is for a woman in the 1700’s. Even finding a room to rent is difficult. What kind of woman would need a room? When she finds one, she is forced to rent it for several nights and to pay cash in advance, with no receipt given. She agrees to this even though it costs almost every cent she has. Meanwhile, the rooming house owner forgets Addie the minute she closes the door on the deal, returning soon after to rent the same room to someone else, forcing Addie out.
Or imagine this, Addie can have a romantic night with a man, but when they wake up in the morning, he will not remember her. Thinking her a prostitute, he will force coins into her hand.
On the bright side, if she steals something she needs to survive – like clothing or food – and if the store owner runs after her, the moment she turns a corner and is out of sight, the shopkeeper can’t quite remember why he is running, so she gets away every time.
But then something strange happens in New York City in 2014. Addie steals a book from a shopkeeper named Henry. When she comes back another day to repeat the process, he remembers her! And that’s where the story really begins.
Who is Henry? Why can he remember her? How does she handle the intoxicating feeling of a relationship that can last more than one night? She’s never had a long-term relationship before, except with the devil. And most intriguing, after 300 years of “togetherness,” are they an item?
I am sure there are scads of novels about people making deals with the devil, but this is the first one I have read. To tell the truth, I don’t even know into which genre these books fall. Horror? Fantasy? Those are not categories I read. But this book? I read it. I loved it. I recommend it.