Aria Adams is a pen name for Katie Douglas. It’s the one where she writes dark stuff. And the Belle Jar is dark. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it sure as fuck isn’t any kind of fairy tale. It’s dark, horrific in places, merely scary in others, but it has glimmers of light in it. It’s a great story and I loved it.
Marea lives in Darkholm, which isn’t a very nice kind of place to live. Her mother was burned as a witch and the people of her village keep accusing her of being a witch. The only thing that has saved Marea from being burned is the fact that her mother had the foresight to have a chastity ring inserted on Marea. This ring went into her bits, making sure that she would retain her virginity. No one could figure out how to take the ring off, and frankly, Marea is pretty happy about that, because it proves she’s still a virgin and never had sex with a demon, meaning she couldn’t be a witch. But the fact that she’s a redhead doesn’t endear her to the people in her village.
In the dark and evil woods near their village, is a castle. Every 7 years, the denizens of the castle demand a sacrifice. This year, the village has decided that it’s going to be Marea, so they bundle her into a sack and pop up onto the doorstep of the castle. When she’s taken out of the sack, she’s confronted by monsters who pop her into a bell jar and begin doing terrible things. She manages to survive that part, but more and more horrible things happen.
I loved the story. Aria managed to put a lot of different layers in it and to leave you wondering what’s going to come next. I wasn’t sure what Marea was going to do when she got stuck with horrible choices. When your choices break down into a handful of shit or a bigger handful of shit, there’s not really any good choice for you to make. I’m pretty sure that Marea would’ve been happy if handfuls of shit had been her choice.
I love the dichotomy of the castle boys and the mirror boys. It was really interesting to see. I’m not sure if it made it any easier for Marea or not. I mean, she had someplace to escape to, but when she came back to the castle, she had something terrible to deal with. I would think that each time she was able to go to the mirror, it would make coming back so much worse.
OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go read it, but make sure you have a comfy blankie with you while you do.