This Is No Game: Tim Story Should Look At Frank Beddor Monopoly Movie Treatment

I was talking with my boss Frank Beddor the other day and our conversation landed on childhood. No, we weren’t comparing trauma, we were talking about board games. I had brought up Monopoly and Frank brought up the fact that he had actually written a Monopoly movie with Eric Laster years prior. I thought he was making a joke but he was actually completely serious. He went on to say that he even had Ridley Scott attached to the project. Which is insane on a couple levels. Surface level being Ridley Scott directed Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator which seem like they would be a different tone than the Monopoly movie.

Sir Ridley Scott
Sir Ridley Scott

Immediately an intrusive thought came into my head of Joaquin Phoenix giving a thumbs down to a replicant who can’t make their rent causing a thimble to burst out of their chest. Which honestly is a great allegory for a landlord/renter relationship. The project, unfortunately, fell apart but I asked to read the treatment for the Monopoly movie.

After reading the treatment, I was blown away, I asked Frank if he minded me pitching a couple of jokes on it and he gave me the go-ahead. Frank told me that Kevin Hart and Tim Story are now attached to the project which is slated to come out in 2027. With a release date that far off it’s a safe bet that there is no script.

Now I’m here shouting into the void hoping that Kevin Hart or Tim Story would want to take a peek at what Frank has created.

After immersing myself in Kevin & Tim’s catalog of movies I can confidently say that they would be perfect for this film. Kevin being a master at playing a “straight man" like characters and being thrown into impossibly wild situations causing him to become the comic and Tim’s mastery of comedic direction and use of the camera to enhance the comedy really are the missing thimble and wheelbarrow pieces to this monopoly movie.

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart

Kevin would be great as Chuck Nash, a middle-aged, Monopoly-obsessed, man. Chuck works as a mid-level cog at the elite AlphaProperties real estate company while also pulling double duty at his family’s game store, where he lives… With his mother… Which I can’t actually make fun of because I hang out at my mom’s all the time, it’s tough out there and there is free food and coffee at her place. He’s also hopelessly in love with his high school crush Melissa but is “waiting for the right opportunity to ask her out.” Which we all know means that he is too nervous to ask her. I can make fun of this because, as an aspiring comedy writer, I’m the epitome of self-confidence.

The story starts off with a montage of Chuck as a child growing up and how monopoly has always been there for him. The first time he played it with his parents, the first time he bought a property, the first time he landed on a space with a hotel on it and flipped the board, arguing over the real rules of the game v.s. “house rules” that other use, him playing too aggressively while on a first date with a girl thus ruining his chances for a second date. You know, things we have all done. The montage ends with Chuck rolling the dice on himself, after noticing that his childhood neighborhood is taking a dark turn toward the vilest of beasts, gentrification.

Chuck creates a business plan to save his neighborhood, which he is going to propose to his bosses the Alpha Brothers, he calls the plan “Gentrification with a Soul.” His bosses love it, except they hate the soul part, you see, soul affects profit margins. So, now his neighborhood is going to get gentrified worse than New York. For those of you that don’t know, used to have the nickname “Fear City” but that’s all changed now that Harlem is full of kids from LA with rich parents.

His mother, who thinks his proposal went off like a success, surprises him with a gift, a first edition monopoly board. Not wanting to break the bad news to his mother, he does not tell her what happened. Little does Chuck know this board is special, and the next day he is in for a rude awakening when he goes to buy his morning cup of coffee, all he has is Monopoly money, his pockets are overflowing with the colorful cash that looks like Canadian money. The barista happily takes the cash, which is weird, but what’s even weirder is what he sees outside. That’s right, he’s in Monopoly world.

Monopoly is ripe for adaptation
Monopoly is ripe for adaptation

You may be wondering to yourself, “how did he end up in monopoly world? Was it magic? A portal to a different universe? Psychosis induced by lead exposure?" To which I answer you with a gracious, “you ask too many questions.”

Monopoly world is a sprawling, high-speed metropolis where businesses cannibalize each other for breakfast and have hostile takeovers for tea. It’s like Wall Street on cocaine… Scratch that, it’s like Wall Street and Succession had a baby and it was on twice as much cocaine but preferably with a PG rating, so like pixy stix? The city is a perfect representation of the board game coming to life. Single seater race cars zip through town, a cannon statue sits in the middle of the park, a wheelbarrow is pushed around, and someone has a thimble. Side note, why is the thimble a piece and how do I always end up being forced to use it?

In the center of the town is the Exchange, the central hub where all business takes place. Chuck thinks he is dreaming and makes a fool of himself, which as we have all seen before, Kevin Hart portrays perfectly on the screen.

After standing up for a woman who is being evicted named Julia who looks exactly like his real-world crush Melissa. When he offers to pay her rent, he learns that he actually has enough money to buy the whole building. As a renter myself, this is a dream I have on the first of every month. Chuck becomes the landlord of Vermont Ave. Which catches the eye of the Parker Brothers, the hyper-wealthy businessmen who are striving to have a monopoly over the city. They are actively buying up all the properties, booting those who live there to the slums of Baltic Ave. and turning them into overpriced hotels (which no one can afford to stay at). Their drive to get a monopoly not only comes from an insatiable thirst for cash but also because it’s the only way out of the city and back into the real world. They aren’t happy with one monopoly, they want two, a dualopoly if you will.

Chuck and Julia team up in an attempt to take down the Parker Brothers. This is no easy task since the Parker Bros also control the banks, cheating just like the person who always insists on being the banker.

In this wild adventure, Chuck stays at one of the Parker Brothers  Serling-esque hotels, is kidnapped,, becomes a business magnate, shuts down the Exchange to cause a “Bank Error”, becomes monopoly obsessed, and uses the skills he’s learned from playing the board game to help him escape this crazy world in time to save his neighborhood from the encroaching assault of overpriced coffee shops that come along with gentrification. Maybe, just maybe, these events will give him the confidence to ask Melissa out.

Rich Uncle Pennybags, the mascot of Monopoly
Rich Uncle Pennybags, the mascot of Monopoly

Oh, and don't you go another second worrying that Rich Uncle Pennybags isn’t in this movie, he makes constant cameos all over town as a driver, railway operator, therapist, masseuse, and perhaps even a mohel. Is it the same person or does he have a bunch of identical twins? Is he a poor man who has a bunch of odd jobs dressing like a rich man? Or is he an eccentric billionaire who enjoys life around town? Whatever the case, he’s hilarious.

If that little highlight reel doesn’t have your fancy tickled Mr. Hart and Mr. Story. Allow me to attempt to tickle it once more. I really have studied both of your films and I’ve noticed that while they are incredibly funny, the themes that are tackled are quite profound and are full of heart. This film, while being a perfect opportunity for Kevin to be his Kevinist and for Tim to get some hilarious action shots, will also examine the effects of gentrification, corporate greed, and wealth disparity as well as the fact that nothing good in life can happen unless you take a chance on yourself and on those around you.

Like the chance cards in the board game, you never know what the outcome will be until you roll the dice… I mixed up my metaphors just then but I’m sticking with what I said. To clear up what I’m trying to say with this metaphor, Kevin, Tim, want to discuss this over lunch? Frank’s buying.

Read the Original Los Angeles Times Article by Geoff Boucher for more details.

Meet The Author

Jared Hoffman graduated from the American Film Institute with a degree in screenwriting. A Los Angeles native, his brand of comedy is satire stemming from the many different personalities and ego’s he has encountered throughout his life.

The Looking Glass Wars, Season One Outline: Part III

Redd stalks the imperial hallways, convinced that Alyss is plotting an attack and impatient for The Cat to return with her actual head. Learning of Hatter Madigan’s reappearance, Redd decides—in contrast to the common wisdom of coaches everywhere—that the best defense is an aggressive offense.

On Earth, unable to ignore her memories but still suppressing most of her past, Alice begins to question her history. Where did she come from? Why are her recollections of “fictitious” Wonderland the only ones she possesses from her earliest years?

Alice seeks out Lewis Carroll, intuiting that her estrangement from him is relevant and that he can provide answers. But Carroll tells her what she least wants to hear—that her terrible nightmares and visions, the same ones he had long ago turned into nonsense and published in an effort to help her overcome what he believed to be her traumas as an orphan—well, everything in them is (or was) real. Just as she had insisted, they were when a little girl. He knows this because he’s met Hatter Madigan—the real Mad Hatter.

The acknowledged truth of Alice’s past only burdens her further. Every day, she’s pressured by her family to conform to the traditional role of a woman in Victorian society (marriage, children, passivity). Every day, she contends with Jesus Jones’ gang for the theater (the site of her orphanage). And every day, the crown acts as a stealth wedge attempting to drive her and Prince Leopold apart.

It’s always easier to give in, and we might think that Alice’s life would be less troubled were she to accept a proposal of marriage and forget her do-gooder ambitions. We’d be wrong. Prince Leopold, defying his overbearing mother, proposes to Alice, and buffeted on all sides by responsibilities, other people’s hopes and expectations, she goes into something of a tailspin.

Alice is pulled between worlds

She puts off answering Leopold, knowing that, though she loves him, agreeing to become his wife will have negative implications for her work with orphans. She’s no longer naïve enough to think that the queen shares her enthusiasm for improving the children’s welfare. Nor is she unaware that the queen judges her to be an uppity no-name who’s grown from a foundling to mistakenly acting as if a woman can make her own decisions, conduct business, etc.—i.e., do everything a man can do.

Disappointed but gallant, the gentleman suitor Hargreaves waits tactfully for Alice in the wings, but the pressure from her family intensifies. Marriage to a royal would significantly raise the Liddells’ standing in society. Adding to Alice’s stress, Jesus Jones’ gang burns down her recently opened orphanage.

“They want me to return to Wonderland and take up the throne?” Alice mourns to her reflection in a looking glass. “Me? When everything I touch falls apart. What kind of queen could I possibly be?”

Queen Genevieve materializes in the quicksilver. “A warrior queen,” she says, then vanishes.

It’s not enough. Or maybe it’s all too much. As Alice once did when a child, she vows to put aside the memories and passions that prevent her from getting on well in our world. She will embrace, more than ever, her adopted role as a Victorian woman, albeit a privileged one; she agrees to marry Prince Leopold.

In Lewis Carroll’s Adventures, Alice falls down a rabbit hole into a kaleidoscopically absurd Wonderland. In reality, Wonderland erupts into our world and there’s nothing absurd about it.

The royal wedding between Prince Leopold and Alice is our season’s last major set-piece. The Cat, having assumed the life of one of his aristocratic victims, has been invited and intends to finally separate Alice’s head from her body, though he’s wistful; murdering her will mean an end to the fun he’s been having, a return to Redd in Wonderland. But Hatter, unwilling to leave Alice alone longer than necessary, is also at the wedding, and when The Cat makes his move, Hatter steps up to defend his princess. It’s a vicious fight, and the otherworldly abilities of the combatants leave everyone dumbstruck. But not Leopold; he who spent his childhood coddled as a hemophiliac, who has dreamed of a life of action, intercepts a blow meant for Alice—a blow that looks to be fatal.

The Cat Attacks

Alyss issues her first command: Hatter must take Leopold to Wonderland, where only the power of imagination can save him.

Hatter’s mind reels back to when Queen Genevieve ordered him to leave her and save Alyss. And now Alyss is asking him to leave in order to save Leopold? He’s on the verge of refusing when…

Dalton’s betrayal comes to the fore as a swarm of Redd’s card soldiers invade the proceedings (some of the soldiers traveling through The Pool of Tears wound up in far-flung locales, providing a moment of levity). Dalton, it turns out, has been loyal to Redd all along, having sent word to her about Alyss’s precise whereabouts, and she has tasked him with overseeing the princess’s elimination. Surely, Redd had sneered, Dalton, The Cat, and her top hand of card soldiers could manage to kill an inexperienced girl?

But Hatter didn’t come back to Earth alone. Dodge and a cadre of Alyssians engage against Redd’s forces, and the sight of Dodge—Alyss’s first/best friend—stirs something deep inside her. Redd’s coup, the event that changed her life—and so many others’—forever, comes back to her in full…

We’re with seven-year-old Alyss as Redd and her mercenaries storm the princess’s birthday party—Redd wearing a gown of black, toothy roses and screaming “Off with their heads!” while bodies fall. We’re with Alyss as she hides under a table beside ten-year-old Dodge and sees The Cat murder Dodge’s father.

“No!” Dodge cries, charging at The Cat and getting swatted away, four parallel lines of blood marring his cheek.

We’re with Alyss as she and Queen Genevieve are pursued down palace halls by The Cat, until—

Thwip! Hatter kills the feline assassin with a deft throw of his spinning hat blades. Genevieve urges the Milliner to take Alyss and go, to keep the princess safe so that she might one day rule Wonderland. Genevieve, her emotions barely in check, then tells young Alyss that no matter what happens, she will always be with her, on the other side of the looking glass.

With a hiss, The Cat (who has nine lives) regains life and pounces. Hatter scoops up Alyss and jumps into a looking glass. Within moments he and the princess are racing through woods to The Pool of Tears, chased by The Cat: the cold open.

Alyss remembers all of this acutely, its truth informing every cell of her being, while our season finale’s massive, magical battle rages around her. Quigly, Hargreaves, and even Lewis Carroll fight to protect Alyss. How much of their protection she needs is up for debate, though, because she proves surprisingly adept in combat thanks to her waxing powers of imagination.

Amid the melee, Hatter is forced to kill the brother with whom he so recently reunited, and we end not with a victory so much as a mutual retreat.

Hatter vs. Dalton, The Madigan Brothers fight
Hatter vs. Dalton

The Cat, with Dalton dead and Alyss proving too powerful for him, slips out of the fray and camouflages himself by murdering an ordinary Londoner, assuming his/her form. Hatter hurries to Wonderland with a dying Leopold. And Alyss’s worry for her beloved does more to convince her to return to her birthplace than Dodge Anders’ entreaties. In other words, she travels to Wonderland and joins the Alyssians, not because she’s convinced that she’s destined to battle Redd for the queendom but because of her love for Leopold.

Redd is, of course, enraged by the failure of her troops to do away with Alyss. She lashes out at the queendom, Dark Imagination bruising every corner of society. And the further Wonderland falls into a pit of corruption and violence, the more Earth does too. The only way to save both worlds is to rid them of Redd forever.

For Alyss to accomplish that, however, she’ll need to assume the throne, which she can only do by navigating her Looking Glass Maze to realize her full imaginative power. And successfully navigating her maze, if she can locate it, isn’t a given. Plus, there’s much to be done along the way—card houses to unite, armies to raise, battles to wage.

But during a single season Alyss has transformed from Victorian social justice warrior to Wonderland Joan of Arc, the de facto leader of a rebellion that we’ll track in LGW’s second season, with the action taking place primarily in a world of rediscovery for Alyss—Wonderland, strange, familiar, home.

The war between Light and Dark Imagination is just beginning.

Read Part One of The Looking Glass Wars Season One Outline

Read Part Two of The Looking Glass Wars Season One Outline

For More on the World of the Looking Glass Wars:

Part One: Wonderland’s Imagination Empowers

Part Two: Wonderland Beginnings

Part Three: Roadmap To Phantasia

This is How They Found the Music for the New Alice In Wonderland Project - The Looking Glass Wars

Before I started writing The Looking Glass Wars, I did a lot of research on the cultural impact of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I was struck by the depth and richness of the music influenced by Lewis Carroll’s books.  Artists from Jefferson Airplane and Bob Dylan to Tom Petty to Gwen Stefani have used imagery based on ‘Alice’ in their songs and videos.  I wondered what would it sound like if the true story of Alyss Heart of Wonderland was told through contemporize music?

What if I could expand the intellectual dimension of reading my book into a heightened sensory experience using music to open aural portals connecting our world to Wonderland? Considering my book is set in two dimensions and so much of the story unfolds in Wonderland, it came to me that for the reader to fully experience my characters and their world, I should extend the mental dimension of the page to the aural dimension to make it more sensory and emotional. Acting on this imaginative impulse I decided to create an ‘aural novel’ of sorts, by producing a soundtrack much in the same way a director would for a film. It was an abstract concept, but one that I felt held a secret, a locked promise if faithfully and artistically pursued. The musical landscape offered an incredible choice of talent and within a short time several artists were at work on their songs.

I called Canadian music supervisor Androo Mitchell, a friend and colleague who I previously worked with on the film Wicked, to help select and collaborate with the artists for the project.

Androo was intrigued by the idea, and we got to work.

My primary directive to the artists was to take my characters and the themes and write music that is personal to them.

One of many standout songs is “Puddles,” – “This is no ordinary water/ Do not be fooled” – it took shape after English electronic soundscaper Grant Baldwin (aka Phontaine) and Gemma Luna imagined themselves as Alyss jumping into puddles, desperately searching for the one that would take her home. A reference to the Pool of Tears, (a portal between Wonderland and our world) Alice must find ‘a puddle where no puddle should be’ if she is to ever return to Wonderland and claim her rightful place on the throne.

Grant Baldwin (aka Phontaine) at work in his studio
Grant Baldwin (aka Phontaine) at work in his studio

Another artist, Julianna Raye – whose music Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker described as “languidly gorgeous,” remarked, “[She] has the bruise of heartbreak in her blue voice”: “My contribution to the soundtrack is called ‘Mirror.’  I was moved by Alyss’ romance with [the guardsman] Dodge and began thinking about the things that separate us.  We can cut ourselves off from our past and essentially become separate within ourselves.  Loving someone can help you reconnect with your true, whole nature.  Of course, what we believe is our ‘true’ self is forever changing.  I thought ‘The Looking Glass Wars’ did a wonderful job of exploring those themes.”

Hypnogaja’s Looking Glass is morose and stylish and manages the capture the essence of the world beyond the mirror with a unique, abstract approach. And within one beat, the song jumps to another mood, one of survival through the battle. Their song reflects both Carroll’s fiction as well as the true story of Alyss/Alice found in my research and books.

One of the coolest things Silence did with the song “Shattered,” was take sampling from The Looking Glass Wars audiobook voice actor Gerald Doyle’s reading and distort it with a heavy echo effect distinguished by a tense cello sample.

One of my favorite songs is “To Another World,” produced by the audio Ninja and performed by Velvet front man Kuba, who earned gold honors at the Canadian Music Week national songwriter’s competition. The song has become the anthem for every school visit talk I have with students. “Welcome to wonderland / Welcome to my world.”

Adham Shaikh Melds Electronic Music with Wonderland
Adham Shaikh Melds Electronic Music with Wonderland

“Through the Looking Glass,” from composer/producer/2006 Juno Award nominee (World Music Album of the Year) Adham Shaikh.

Courier Heart,” from Eccodek (brainchild of producer/songwriter/remixer Andrew McPherson) featuring the seductive vocals of Ambre McLean; Silence’s grooving, glockenspiel-spiced “Deadly”; “Sea of Redd,” rendered by Phontaine featuring the rare-groove croon of Nadia; Intrepid listeners may also discover an otherworldly “score” excerpt composed by Nick Young, leader of forward-looking Los Angeles rock combo A.i.

Androo was amazed during the germination of the soundtrack how the artists showed him how some of the pieces fit together.  “Music has the power to distill emotions and ideas and I saw that over and over during this process,” 

“I was the ‘live’ conduit between two very creative forces, the writer of the novel and the people behind the music,” Mitchell elaborated, “and did I ever get electrocuted!”

“The artists were constantly coming to me with their works-in-progress, and I’d hear a lyric or a fragment of melody that would make me feel something about one of the characters I hadn’t felt before.  I came to know these characters on a much deeper level, which frequently left me speechless.”

All the songs present a kaleidoscopic view of my books and themes set against a sonic backdrop of trip-hop, modern rock, and a psychedelic sound collage.  Because of the diversity of music, the album is a beautiful, haunting representation of Alyss’s world and the narrative of my book.

Ultimately, though, I was more concerned that each song evoking an emotional response, rather than adhering to any storyline.  Likewise, listeners need not be familiar with The Looking Glass Wars to lose themselves in The Looking Glass Wars Soundtrack.  First and foremost, the music had to come together as an album, a work of art independent of the book. However, I discovered once people get into any part of The Looking Glass Wars, they want to figure out how all the pieces fit together.

The Looking Glass Wars Soundtrack

And this is where it all became strange. As the music came together and the tracks were compiled, I came to know these characters, my characters, on a much deeper level. Ultimately, I found it both shocking and exhilarating to so intimately experience the anguish and passion of the heroic, monstrous, vengeful, and loving denizens of Wonderland.

I couldn’t quite get over how fully the artists were able to connection with my book, there was extraordinary collaborative synchronicity.  And the idea that they had taken a product of my imagination and articulated it into these magical songs was incredible.

Androo said at the time, “It’s easy to be inspired by a story like this.  After all, one of the book’s most important ideas is about broadening the horizons of our imaginations.”

All the musicians’ creativity and innovation inspired by Alice in Wonderland, rely on a rich heritage of prior intellectual efforts, revisiting, re-envisioning, and reimagining Alice of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Alice/Alyss is aware of the depth of her roots and owes her identity to all her various artistic incarnations, shaped by our changing social fabric and morals.

The world of The Looking Glass Wars is complex; it is messy. It leaves behind the childlikewonder of Wonderland by pitting Alyss Heart – the princess of Wonderland – against the “real” world on Earth.

The Looking Glass Wars soundtrack takes you through a journey that’s relaxed at times and sometimes exudes climax. It is a simple tale and an abstract musical journey for the listeners.

The album dually reflects our ideals and horrors. Today truth is relative—we all live in our own version of the truth. How we view the world depends on how we look through the looking glass.

I’ve been humbled by my good fortune in enlisting these creative souls to further cultivate my Wonderverse, I must have taken the right magic mushrooms.

The Looking Glass Wars Soundtrack Song List
The Looking Glass Wars Soundtrack Song List

Visit the Music page to listen to samples of The Looking Glass Wars Soundtrack, or visit the store to purchase your copy of the CD.

Lyrics - “Shattered” by Silence

The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions of mad tea parties, sleepy door mice and a curious little blonde girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for imagination.

The Looking Glass Wars…


Alyss Heart
A fairy tale life was shattered
Behind the fantasy


Parallel worlds
True story
Forget all you know

Now discover the truth

True Story
This is no tea party

You may have heard of this dear old book

True Story
This is no tea party

Uncover the truth
Forget all you know

Now discover the truth

The real Wonderland is a world torn apart
Where imagination is power 
Forget all you know

Now discover the truth

The real Wonderland is a world torn apart
Where imagination is power

Alyss entrusted Lewis Carroll to tell the truth
The true story is no tea party

You may have heard of this dear old book
The true story is no tea party

Uncover the truth
Forget all you know

Now discover the truth
The real Wonderland is a world torn apart

Where imagination is power

Forget all you know
Now discover the truth

The real Wonderland is a world torn apart

Where imagination is power

Lyrics - “Sea of Redd” by Phontaine

It's all in my head
they said, they said
but all I see is redd
a sea of redd, a sea of redd. 
She killed off all I loved
in a moment of time
now she's mine 
and all I see is redd
a sea of redd, a sea of redd…

Heiress to the throne
forget everything,
erase the known. 
The army of me
fighting evil, a horrible disease. 
My body's full of fear
revenge is ready, the time is here. 
My heart is beating bold
strong and steady, ice cold. 

It's all in my head
they said, they said
but all I see is redd
a sea of redd, a sea of redd. 
She killed off all I loved
in a moment of time
now she's mine 
and all I see is redd
a sea of redd…

The shape shifting feline
is no friend of mine
his ways are wicked to the mind.
The palace, the crystal mines
the lord of diamonds, don't forget this time… 
Black and white, good and bad
with shades of grey I've never had 

Wonderland’s a pool of tears
once a puddle 
now it's up to our ears. 

It’s all in my head
they said, they said 
and all I see is redd
a sea of redd, a sea of redd

The Looking Glass Wars, Season One Outline: Part II

Hatter re-energized and refocused, certain that Princess Heart is alive and in need of him, Hatter regains himself, as it were, and we see his awesome martial ability in a glorious action-escape set-piece. He summons his extraordinary hat back to him and fights through an army of orderlies and guards, dishing out a bloody revenge to those who have imprisoned him. 

Again, setting out in search of Princess Heart, Hatter sails to the Far East. He ends up in a battle against CHING SHIH, female commander of the Red Flag Fleet—a pirate armada and the terror of the Asian Pacific. Valuing Hatter’s skills, Ching suggests an alliance. But what starts as a practical partnership between Hatter and Ching quickly blooms into romance grounded in a shared background of loss (past loves).

Hatter’s hunt for Alice is further diverted when he hears rumors of another Milliner on Earth—one who turns out to be his older brother, DALTON MADIGAN, whom he thought had died more than a decade ago.

The brothers’ emotional reunion at first bolsters Hatter’s hope for finding Princess Heart, but Dalton’s loyalties are soon questionable; he’s suspiciously interested to learn that Redd is Wonderland’s monarch. (Dalton has always loved Redd, and his unwitting participation in the murder of her mother Queen Theodora spurred him to jump into The Pool of Tears to avoid disgrace.)

The Madigan brothers’ complex Cain-and-Abel relationship will play out over the course of the LGW’s first season, but soon after reuniting, they come across a fantastical tome entitled Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Determining that its author Lewis Carroll must be in contact with Alyss Heart, Hatter and Dalton head to Oxford, England, where…

Alice is more than petticoats deep in the complexities of Victorian courtship, budding love, and palace intrigue. Still in faltering denial of all things Wonderland, she presses on with her goal of founding an orphanage, desperate to protect children from hard labor, starvation, and violence. Her noble, though decidedly unladylike actions, have thoroughly drawn in the hearts of both Prince Leopold and REGINALD HARGREAVES, a gentleman suitor first met at the party that introduced Alice to society. Throughout the season, we’ll explore a love triangle between Alice, Leopold, and Hargreaves, but it’s with Prince Leopold that most of the drama lies.

Alice’s growing reputation for fighting against child labor, the prince’s love—these earn her the smoldering ire of QUEEN VICTORIA. How can the queen’s youngest son be enamored of a plainly dressed commoner? A commoner, no less, whose efforts to improve the welfare of the country’s most vulnerable population conflict with certain arrangements of hers with gang-leader Jesus Jones?

Jesus and his men—our version of the Peaky Blinders–have been, with the palace’s tacit approval, snatching children off the street to sweat tirelessly in workhouses, providing a cheap labor force to support the aristocracy that Victoria strives politically to maintain.

No way Victoria will tolerate the upstart Alice Liddell. Behind Prince Leopold’s back, she schemes to tear the young couple apart.

One scheme involves recruiting Jones’ gang to do away with Miss Liddell. The job falls to QUIGLY, but he has good reason not to murder the charitable Alice; he had been the very first person she met after crossing over into our realm, her best friend on Earth for a time. As Queen Victoria works to undermine Alice, we’ll chart Quigly’s arc from nefarious gangbanger to one of Alice’s most vital comrades, defying the ruthless queen at the price of his own safety.

But what of The Cat, Redd’s emissary of death? He’s been closing in on the princess all this while—murdering his way to her, so to speak, and assuming the forms of his victims. Independent of Redd for the first time, he’s rather enjoying his decadent lives as various notables of the aristocracy, which accounts for his not yet having fulfilled his duty to Redd, though he remains an ever-present threat to Alice. And he will fulfill his duty…perhaps after the next soiree.

Arriving in Oxford, Hatter and Dalton Madigan make an unnerving impression on Lewis Carroll, through whom they find their way to Alice Liddell. Hatter’s appearance is, to say the least, a major shock to Alice—undeniable evidence that her so-called visions are indeed something more. Yet she rejects Hatter’s insistence that she must return to Wonderland to fight for the throne and rescue the realm from the tyranny of Redd and Dark Imagination.

“But Queen Genevieve, your mother…” Hatter tries, relating the deceased queen’s belief that Alyss, once of age, would be Wonderland’s only hope.

“My mother, a queen?” Alice scoffs, more troubled than angry because the designation sounds right.

Rejected, Hatter and his brother revisit Lewis Carroll. The author explains how thoroughly shed of her true identity Alice has been—and how he, regrettably, is largely to blame. Hatter and Carroll: two men Alice once trusted who, despite their best intentions, failed her.

Dalton offers to keep watch on the princess, and though Hatter’s none too trusting, he travels to Wonderland through a puddle where no puddle should be. He knows that if he can’t convince Princess Alyss to return, there is Wonderlander who, if still alive, might be able to: the best friend and innocent love of her earliest years, DODGE ANDERS.

Earth’s blight and troubles are mere echoes of Wonderland under Redd. Dark Imagination has cast a pall. The populace is beaten down, paranoid, hunkering into themselves to draw as little of the authorities’ notice as possible. Only a small group resists the tyranny—the Alyssians, a rebel group named in honor of Princess Heart, believed to have been killed by The Cat the night of Redd’s coup.

Dodge Anders, Rebel Portal Runner
Dodge Anders, Portal Runner for the Alyssian Rebels

Twenty-three-year-old Dodge Anders, the son of a former guard at Queen Genevieve’s Heart Palace: as a boy, he had spent countless hours with Princess Alyss, and he’d been at her birthday celebration when Redd and her mercenaries burst in and started killing everyone. He witnessed The Cat’s murder of his father, and the four parallel scars on his own cheek (courtesy of The Cat) now serve as constant goad in his rebellion against Redd and her forces. Dodge is a leading member of the Alyssians. Impulsive, daring—suicidally brave, some might say—he’s largely responsible for the Alyssians’ success over the past thirteen years, helping them avoid detection while conducting surgical strikes against her soldiers.

But Dodge is no longer convinced of Princes Alyss’s death. He’s heard rumors that Redd, unable to see the dead princess in her imagination’s eye (a sixth sense), sent The Cat into The Pool of Tears after her. And while it’s true that Redd had made a show of parading around with the princess’s head, she hadn’t gloated as much as was her custom. As if maybe, she didn’t want anyone to notice that the head had been conjured from her own imagination.

Hatter’s surprise emergence from The Pool of Tears, his news of Princess Alyss—these give fresh confidence to Dodge and the Alyssians. Though Dodge has retained every tender feeling he’s ever had for Alyss, he’s too hardened by circumstance, and too concerned with all that’s at stake, to dwell on them.

To be continued…

Read Part One: The Looking Glass Wars, Season One: Part I

For More on the World of the Looking Glass Wars:

Part One: Wonderland’s Imagination Empowers

Part Two: Wonderland Beginnings

Part Three: Roadmap To Phantasia

The Looking Glass Wars, Season One Outline: Part I

Cold Open:

A seven-year-old girl, clutching the hand of a man dressed in a long, flaring coat and top hat, runs through the dark woods. An overly muscled humanoid-feline with a nasty grin pursues them, leaping from tree to tree, all of which seem to whisper and whine in complaint. The girl stumbles. The man picks her up and races out beyond the edge of the woods to a cliff overlooking a swirling, rainbow-colored pool. He holds the girl tightly in his arms, jumps as—
Behind him, the feline beast lunges from the trees, arms outstretched, dagger-sized claws gleaming.


Man and girl plunge into the pool’s depths, deeper and deeper. Panicked, the girl flails, causing the man to lose hold of her. We stay with the girl as her bodyguard—for so the man is—shrinks to nothing in the liquid distance. Currents shift. The girl starts rising, ever upward until she comes flying out of a puddle in the middle of Victorian London.

Alyss and Hatter separated in the Pool of Tears
Alyss and Hatter separated in the Pool of Tears

Oxford, England. 1872.

ALICE LIDDELL (20) jolts awake in bed, scraps of this troubling dream still flashing through her head as her sisters EDITH and VIOLET, singing “Happy Birthday,” enter her room with a cake. Though Alice enjoys local fame from having been Lewis Carroll’s muse years earlier, she appears to be an ordinary middle-class young lady of the era, though in temperament—and in so much else, as we’ll learn—she isn’t the least ordinary.

In Wonderland, Alice (or rather, Alyss) would have been ascending to the throne on this, her twentieth birthday. In our world, the day proves hardly less weighty, her adoptive sisters and mother busying themselves with preparations for a party that will introduce her to society—and, more particularly, to potential suitors.

While others work to marry her off, Alice strives to better the lives of “street urchins” and of children in orphanages/workhouses. Her plan: to open an orphanage that values children’s welfare above profits. In this, Alice is motivated by her own experience (after landing in our world) of living on the streets as a child, then in a foundling hospital, and by her knowledge that not everyone was as lucky as she, to be adopted into a loving middle-class family.

But hallucinations keep plaguing her. Burning eyes and the angry hiss of a cat. Card soldiers being dealt over a palace wall. A queen in white yelling for her to run.

Alice’s persistent visions cause her to think of LEWIS CARROLL, from whom she’s been estranged for years. She long ago suppressed the reasons for their estrangement, but the restless truth still resides within her: that she felt Carroll had betrayed her. Why? When the awful facts of Wonderland were still clearly in her mind, before they had been questioned, denied, and finally driven from her consciousness by the necessity of surviving in this new world, Alice had confided to the shy, retiring Oxford don who worked for her adoptive father. Carroll had seemed to believe that she was indeed a princess of a realm in which imagination was a magical, palpable force. He had seemed to mourn with her over the violence and murder that had upended her formerly charmed life, forcing her and a bodyguard to flee to Earth through The Pool of Tears the night her aunt Redd seized control of Wonderland.

Lewis Carroll Sanitized Alyss's Story With Good Intention
Lewis Carroll Sanitized Alyss's Story With Good Intention

But then Carroll, who had actually thought Alice’s tale the result of traumas she experienced as an orphan and believed he could rid her of such demons by rendering them as laughable figments, had turned her history into drivel and published it to great popularity.

Living chessmen, a woman in gown of writhing, toothy, roses—

Alice tries to shake off these visions, and as she strives to make her kinder, gentler orphanage a reality, she angers members of the clergy overseeing foundling hospitals, makes an enemy of gang leader JESUS JONES, yet unwittingly gains the support of PRINCE LEOPOLD, Queen Victoria’s youngest son.

Leopold is a fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Sickly in his youth, the prince had spent much his childhood isolated from the world, gazing out of the castle windows, and imagining an adventuresome existence. He had lived vicariously through Carroll’s characters; meeting the woman he knows to have been the author’s muse, he can’t help being instantly captivated.

Spinning blades caught by an expert hand. A man with a top hat disappearing into a liquid distance. Alice finds herself more and more troubled: there’s something familiar about her visions, that she can’t quite place—or perhaps, deep down, refuses to. Which is particularly problematic because, back in Wonderland, Queen Redd becomes aware that her niece Alyss Heart, whom she had supposed dead, is alive.

To eliminate any future threat of Alyss vying for the throne, Redd sends The Cat, a shape-shifting assassin, to Earth through The Pool of Tears. Like the Terminator on the hunt for Sarah Connor, The Cat begins the hunt for Alyss Heart as…

Thousands of miles from Oxford, in a San Francisco asylum, a dirty, disheveled figure rots slowly in a dark cell. Shadows seem to move, and we recognize HATTER MADIGAN, the man in top hat and flaring coat from the series’ opening scene.

Hatter is a soldier in the Millinery, Wonderland’s elite security force. He formerly possessed astounding martial abilities, but ever since he emerged from a puddle where no puddle should be in the Namib Desert, alone, his skills have steadily lessened.

In his cell, Hatter mentally relives the night of the coup, when he abandoned Queen Genevieve (at her urging) to Redd’s wrath, promising to save Princess Alyss so that she might one day return to Wonderland and rule it by the principles of Light Imagination. We get only glimpses of what he remembers. Throughout the season, we’ll see snippets of the coup through the eyes of the characters who were there—just flashes of scenes, giving us hints of that event’s horrific violence without a clear picture of how it all went down. Not until we near our season finale, when Alyss remembers the coup, will we see it in full, from her POV.

Hatter and Alyss Escape Redd's Coup While Genevieve Fights Back

For now, Hatter’s recollections of that night provide us insight mostly into his own psyche.

He had failed to protect Princess Alyss, his sworn charge, losing her in The Pool of Tears. He had searched the globe for her, following the glow of imagination. Yet lack of success, and years of self-laceration took their toll; the longer he lived with his failure, the more the best parts of him were eaten away until he was weak enough to be subdued by authorities. As a menacing individual spouting insane tales about a lost princess, he was locked in this west coast madhouse.

Hatter’s top hat, the sidekick of a weapon that he can flatten into coptering blades with a flick of his wrist and send slicing through enemies, is essentially locked in its own cell elsewhere in the asylum.

But with the gradual return of Alice’s Wonderland memories comes her power of imagination (the magic of our series). She inadvertently calls forth this power in a tense scene in an old theater, illegally used by Jesus Jones’ gang, that she intends as her orphanage.

And like entangled quantum particles, a supernatural sequence reveals to us that Alice and Hatter are imaginatively entangled. Haunted by her visions of Wonderland and Hatter, she presses a hand directly through a looking glass; half a world away, in Hatter’s cell, that delicate hand emerges from a small mirror.

“Alyss!” Hatter cries.

To be continued…

For More of the World of the Looking Glass Wars, Read These:

Part One: Wonderland’s Imagination Empowers
Part Two: Wonderland Beginnings
Part Three: Roadmap To Phantasia

Friends and Foes of Alyss Heart In Wonderland

Inside the world of The Looking Glass Wars:

While Alice Liddell (or is it Alyss Heart?) has no shortage of antagonism to contend with during her time on earth in Victorian London, she will find upon her return to Wonderland there is a colorful cast of both friends and foes waiting to make her (re)acquaintance. As she rediscovers her royal roots and ascends to the throne with the might of her Imaginative powers these unique characters shall be the shoulders she stands on, the friends she walks beside, and the adversaries she must surmount.


Daughter of Hatter Madigan and Weaver, Molly is a halfer (half Milliner, half civilian). Like all halfers, she bears the mark of her birth just below her left ear: a small “h” tattooed in indigo blue ink. Born in an Alyssian camp in the early part of Redd’s reign, she’s thirteen years old when Alyss Heart, long thought dead, returns to Wonderland with Hatter, who’s disdainful of halfers and doesn’t know that he is her father (neither does she).

Undisciplined in temperament, Molly is remarkably skilled with her signature weapon—a homburg she can flatten into a knife-edged disc. Alternating between defiant pride and self-doubt on account of her halfer status, she’s eager to prove herself in and out of combat. When it comes to Alyss fulfilling her destiny, Molly is nearly as integral as Hatter, who, learning that she’s his daughter and recognizing his former prejudice against halfers as stupid, wants nothing more than to be with her.

Homburg Molly
Homburg Molly


The childhood friend of Hatter Madigan who, in adulthood, is the secret love of his life and—unbeknownst to him for years— the mother of his child. Intelligent, empathetic, circumspect, Weaver delays telling Hatter about her pregnancy, knowing how guilty he feels about breaking Millinery protocol by loving her, a civilian (not of Milliner blood). Only when she’s not going to be able to physically hide the truth for much longer does she decide to tell him. Unfortunately, she never gets the chance.

During Redd’s coup, Hatter jumps into The Pool of Tears with Princess Alyss, emerging on Earth unaware that he’s to be a father. During his absence, Weaver gives birth to a daughter, Homburg Molly, in an Alyssian camp. An alchemist of great ability, Weaver is eventually abducted by the king of neighboring Boarderland, used as a bargaining chip in certain negotiations, and eventually killed while protecting her daughter.


Princeling of the Diamond family. Once a spoiled child with a great love of pretentious wigs and a vast superiority com­plex, he is now a spoiled, entitled adult. Jack’s conniving mind serves him well in Redd’s Wonderland—a society where only the shrewdest, most opportunistic, most selfish, and least loyal to friends flourish. He doubles his family’s fortune by pretending to be, in secret, an Alyssian while publicly remaining a Redd loyalist.

One of his methods for increasing his coffers (others are more labyrinthine): he sells supplies to the Alyssians, which Redd allows him to do so long as he provides her with intel regarding their military maneuvers. But Jack always leaves out important details, since if the Alyssians are exterminated, he’ll lose a most profitable revenue stream.

Pictured on the left: Jack of Diamonds, with his family the Royal House of Diamonds
Pictured on the left: Jack of Diamonds, with his family the Royal House of Diamonds


The first friendly person Alyss meets in London, a boy about her age wearing grey breeches patched at the knees and thighs, an overly large frock-coat and cracked leather boots with no laces. As Alyss introduces herself as Princess Alyss Heart of Wonderland, he introduces himself in kind as Prince Quigly Gaffer of Chelsea. He offers her aid and the promise of dry clothes because, amongst other things, she seems a bit brighter than a everything else around her.

Of the band of children that he introduced her to, she thought he was the nicest as he made an effort to keep everyone’s hopes up and he was attentive to everyone. His parents were murdered when a couple of thieves set upon their coach, he would have been killed as well if he hadn’t escaped while they were taking the rings from his dead mother’s fingers. He’s been living on his own, mostly on the streets of London ever since.

When Alyss makes a flower sing in his presence, he gets the idea to turn that trick into a show to earn them coins on the streets with which to buy food. Unfortunately, since he thinks of it as a trick and not Alyss using the power of her imagination, Quigly doesn’t understand when, after a while, she isn’t able to do it anymore. …

Alyss is pinched when they’re stealing food from a shop and Quigly sees her in trouble, but for whatever reason chooses just to keep on running and save his own skin rather than risk saving her as well. It’s the last time she sees him. Until Alyss turns twenty.


Boarderland’s sovereign. A neighboring kingdom of Wonderland, Boarderland is a sprawling place with large, unpopulated tracts between nomadic settlements. It’s a tribal country, and except for clashes, every tribe is self-contained and, to a small extent, self-governing. Arch lets tribes do what they wish in “trivial matters” such as healing rituals and marriage ceremonies. …

He even allows them to choose their own leaders so long as they acknowledge him as their king and abide by certain edicts, most of which have to do with a male’s superiority over females (he doesn’t believe in queendoms).

Arch was Redd’s lover when she was an unruly princess, and the two maintain a flirtatious rela­tionship throughout Redd’s reign as Wonderland’s queen. Arch doesn’t know that he was responsible for Redd’s pregnancy as a teenager, which finally caused her to be removed from offi­cial succession. When it comes to political machinations, Arch would give Machiavelli a run for his money.

King Arch of Boarderland
King Arch of Boarderland


King Arch’s top bodyguards. Prodigies when it comes to tradi­tional modes of combat, though they don’t limit themselves to the traditional. When Ripkins flexes his fingertips, glinting saw teeth push out of the skin in the exact patterns of his finger­prints. Without a wince of emotion, with hands moving as fast as Hatter’s spinning blades, he can reduce anything to shreds, after which the saw teeth sink back into the skin of his fin­gers.

And Blister? Well, let him press the tip of his pinkie finger against the exposed skin of your forearm and you’ll clench your entire body, sweat profusely, and your entire arm will blister. It will be worse, much worse, if Blister touches you with, say, his index finger or—God forbid—an entire hand. Both Ripkins and Blister are martial rivals to Hatter, and their periodic bouts with him quickly become that of legend.


An artificial race created by Redd that have enhanced sight, strength, and speed. Indistinguishable from ordinary Wonderlanders except for the implants of reflective colorless crystal in their eye sockets. They were built for hand-to-hand combat and were typically employed by Redd to patrol the Crystal Continuum and annihilate suspected Alyssians during her tyrannical 13-year reign in Alyss’ absence.

Following Redd’s eventual defeat at Alyss’ hands, Arch sends his bodyguards into the Chessboard Desert to find and capture a Glass Eye which he then successfully reverse-engineers. A factory is then constructed in Boarderland and a good deal of Glass Eyes are manufactured, the nefarious purpose of which is not hard to guess when speculated upon with knowledge of King Arch’s usual conniving.

The Glass Eyes
The Glass Eyes

The Red Queen’s Last Son: Prince Leopold

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884), was the eighth and youngest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Handsome, gentle, charmingly shy, he received more of his mother’s attention than he liked, and as a young man he decided that the best means for gaining his independence was through marriage.

Leopold suffered from hemophilia, however, which not only kept him from active participation in sports and the military (though he held honorary positions in the latter); it also hindered his marriage prospects. Heiresses, second cousins, and aristocratic women were all briefly candidates to be his bride. Did no one want to marry a prince just because he was a hemophiliac? What of the wealth and privilege such a union would bring? Many young ladies did aspire to the royal family, and Leopold’s illness alone wouldn’t have been enough to put them off. But for those already high in society, the rank of princess wasn’t so tempting when it meant having Queen Victoria for a mother-in-law.

Prince Leopold

With Leopold determined to marry, Victoria—as she had done with her older children—loudly, repeatedly proclaimed that offspring of British monarchs should wed royals or nobles of other nations as a means of forming political and military alliances. She would prefer that Leopold stay with her and not marry at all, but if he insisted, then his must be a union that strengthened her reputation as the “grandmother of Europe”— i.e., a union with a notable someone not from the UK.

Leopold was a great admirer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and like most of London society, he knew that Alice Liddell, daughter of Henry Liddell, Dean of Oxford’s Christ Church, had been the inspiration for the titular character. Though Alice was no longer the girl she’d been when Lewis Carroll penned his masterpiece, Leopold felt—a little rightly, a little wrongly—that because of his familiarity with the book, he knew her.

He met the twenty-year-old Alice one beautiful Saturday afternoon at Christ Church. Not near as conservative and priggish as Alice had presumed him to be, she found the prince appreciative of the satire in Carroll’s “nonsensical” novel and open-minded to her ideas for ending child labor in the kingdom. As to her notions concerning a woman’s place in society—how a woman need not be so subservient, yoked to domestic duties only—Leopold encouraged them.

If women in general were half as resourceful as Alice Liddell, he thought, the monarchy would surely benefit from their being treated as men’s equals.

“The more I’m with you, Miss Liddell,” he even admitted one afternoon, “the more I suspect women are superior to men.”

She assured him of it, and unlike with heiresses, second cousins, and aristocrats, Prince Leopold lost himself; he was in love with a commoner, an orphan of no known pedigree who had been adopted into a middle-class family, and who passionately acted upon ideas that Queen Victoria considered outlandish, even dangerous.

By marrying his beloved Alice, Leopold could do more than just gain independence from his domineering mother; he could rebel against her. This, even though the prospective bride would surprisingly prove to be, in accord with the queen’s dictate, quite a notable someone not from the UK. Alice presses on with her goal of founding an orphanage, desperate to protect children from hard labor, starvation, and violence.

Alice’s growing reputation for fighting against child labor, the prince’s love—these earn her the smoldering ire of QUEEN VICTORIA. How can the queen’s youngest son be enamored of a plainly dressed commoner? A commoner, no less, whose efforts to improve the welfare of the country’s most vulnerable population conflict with certain arrangements of providing a cheap labor force to support the aristocracy that Victoria strives politically to maintain.

The Prince and His Mother Queen Victoria

No way Victoria will tolerate the upstart, Alice Liddell. Behind Prince Leopold’s back, she schemes to tear the young couple apart.

One scheme involves recruiting a gang to do away with Miss Liddell. The job falls to QUIGLY, but he has good reason not to murder the charitable Alice; he had been the very first person she met after crossing over into our realm, her best friend on Earth for a time. Every day, she contends with Jesus the gang for the theater (the site of her orphanage). And every day, the crown acts as a stealth wedge attempting to drive her and Prince Leopold apart.

It’s always easier to give in, and we might think that Alice’s life would be less troubled were she to accept a proposal of marriage and forget her do-gooder ambitions. We’d be wrong. Prince Leopold, defying his overbearing mother, proposes to Alice, and buffeted on all sides by responsibilities, other people’s hopes and expectations, she goes into something of a tailspin.

She puts off answering Leopold, knowing that, though she loves him, agreeing to become his wife will have negative implications for her work with orphans. She’s no longer naïve enough to think that the queen shares her enthusiasm for improving the children’s welfare. Nor is she unaware that the queen judges her to be an uppity no-name who’s grown from a foundling to mistakenly acting as if a woman can make her own decisions, conduct business, etc.—i.e., do everything a man can do.

Excerpt from The Looking Glass Wars:

By Alice’s twentieth year, Mrs. Liddell was becoming anxious for her to choose a husband from among her many suitors.

‘But I don’t feel anything for a single one of them,’ Alice complained, shaking her head to fling out the unwanted memory of a boy left behind long ago. Don’t think of him! I mustn’t!

Then, one Saturday, the Liddell family attended an outdoor concert by a quartet at Christ Church Meadow. They were about to take their seats when a young gentleman, under the pretense of introducing himself to Dean Liddell, approached. He was Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria’s youngest son, and he had been sent to Christ Church so that Dean Liddell might oversee his education. This was his first time meeting the family.

Mrs. Liddell became fidgety and excited as she was introduced. ‘And these ladies,’ said Dean Liddell, presenting his daughters, ‘are Edith, Lorina, and Alice. Girls, say hello to Prince Leopold.’

Alice held out her hand for the Prince to kiss. He seemed reluctant to let it go.

‘I’m afraid you can’t keep it, Your Highness,’ she said. And when he didn’t understand: ‘My hand. I may have use for it still.’

‘Ah. Well, if I must return it to you, then I must, though if it ever needs safe keeping . . .’

‘I shall think of you, Your Highness.’

Prince Leopold insisted that the Liddell’s sit with him. He placed himself between Alice and Mrs. Liddell, and when the concert began with a Mozart medley, he leaned over and whispered in Alice’s ear, ‘I don’t fancy medleys. They skip lightly over so many works without delving thoroughly into any one of them.’

‘There are quite a few people like that as well,’ Alice whispered in return.

Mrs. Liddell, not hearing this exchange, flashed her daughter a look, which Alice was at a loss to interpret. The Prince talked to her through the entire concert, discussing everything from art to politics. He found Miss Liddell unlike other young women, who spoke of nothing but velvet draperies, wallpaper patterns and the latest fashions, women who batted their eyelashes and expected him to swoon. Miss Liddell didn’t try to impress him – indeed, she gave the impression that she didn’t much care what he thought of her and he rather admired that. And her beauty . . . yes, her beauty was undeniable. All in all, he thought her a delectable puzzle of a creature.

No sooner was the concert over and Leopold gone than Mrs. Liddell voiced what she’d been trying to communicate to Alice with her eyes.

‘He’s a prince! A prince!  And he’s taken a fancy to you, I’m certain!’

‘We were only talking, Mother. I talked to him as I would have talked to anyone.’

But her mother’s awe and enthusiasm were difficult to ignore, and she started running into Leopold all over town. If she strolled through the Christ Church Picture Gallery, she found him gazing intently at an oil painting by one of the old masters. If she visited the Bodleian Library, she found him thumbing through a volume of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (which she had read in its entirety). He’s handsome enough, I suppose. And obviously well bred. Yes, but so were many of the men who vied for her attention. But at least he didn’t stroke his moustache with impatience as she talked of the need to provide for Britain’s poor. 

‘A nation should be judged on how it looks after its more unfortunate children,’ she explained. ‘If Great Britain is truly to be the greatest kingdom in the world, it is not enough to flaunt our military power and our dominance in industry. We must lead by example and be more charitable to and protective of our own.’

Prince Leopold always listened to her judiciously, weighing her arguments and reasonings with seriousness. He never agreed or disagreed with her.

Mother may be right. I could certainly do worse than marry a prince. But although Alice tried to feel something for the man, her heart remained unconvinced.

Prince Leopold dressed "plainly"

Three months after the concert at Christ Church Meadow, while taking a ride in his carriage to Boar’s Hill, Prince Leopold said, ‘Your father tells me that you’ll be visiting the Banbury Orphanage tomorrow afternoon. I’d like to come along if you’ll have me. One never knows what sort of troubles might beset a young woman there.’

‘If you think it best, Your Highness.’

He offered to take her in the carriage, but Alice said that she’d prefer to walk.

‘You see so much more of the town when you walk – a little curiosity shop or a snatch of garden where you wouldn’t think it possible to have a garden, choked as it is by city things. In a carriage, you hurry past these treasures without noticing them.’

She didn’t take the slightest quirk of mankind for granted but viewed it as a small miracle and cause for celebration, and the prince had begun to love her for this.

At Banbury, the orphans crowded around Alice, hugging her skirts, all shouting at once. Alice laughed, held four conversations simultaneously and, to Leopold’s eye, set off against the soot-stained walls, the drab and loose-hanging clothes of the orphans and the pale bloodless faces of the wardens, she looked more radiant than he’d ever seen her. On a tour of the orphanage, a train of children following at their heels, one young boy refused to let go of Alice’s left thumb.

Alice requested a thorough accounting of the troubles facing the Banbury Orphanage. The wardens pointed out floors rotten from overflowing sewage, the sagging infirmary roof, the time-worn mattresses as thin as wafers. They showed her the pantry, empty save for sacks of dried kidney beans and uncooked rice.

‘The children have had nothing but beans and rice for two weeks,’ one of the women told her. ‘We were supposed to be getting a supply of beef ribs, but so far . . . nothing. This sort of thing happens rather frequently, I’m afraid.’

Prince Leopold had been silent for some time. He cleared his throat.   ‘What   of   the   warden   responsible   for   ensuring   that Banbury receives the food and clothes the children need?’

‘The chief warden is very selective as to who gets what and how much of it, Your Highness,’ the warden explained. ‘He says we take in too many children and that perhaps they are not so deserving. For example, that one there . . .’ the warden pointed at the boy holding on to Alice’s thumb ‘. . . he has a real talent for thieving, though often as not what he steals is food because of how hungry he is. They all are.’ She gestured at the surrounding orphans.

Alice looked at the boy clutching her thumb, reminded of Quigly Gaffer. What’s become of him? And the others? Andrew, Margaret, and Francine, hardly old enough to dress themselves, never mind living on the streets without the love and support of family.

The mournful, faraway look on Alice’s face had a profound effect on the Prince. ‘I shall talk with the Queen,’ he said after several moments. ‘I think we might establish a Commission of Inquiry into the matter and, in the meantime, arrange for an increase in food rations. How does that sound?’

‘It sounds like generosity rarely met with among the living,’ said the woman.

‘Well, no one here shall soon discover if it’s to be met with among the dead either, if I can help it.’

The orphans blinked and said nothing, hardly believing what they had heard: Queen Victoria and Prince Leopold were going to work on their behalf! The wardens offered the Prince their thanks many times over, while Alice looked on and smiled, which was all the thanks he desired.

On the walk home, they stopped to rest in the university’s Botanic Garden, where Alice found herself sitting on a bench with Leopold suddenly kneeling in front of her.

‘No matter what you decide, Alice,’ he was saying, ‘I want you to know that in the coming years I will be only too glad to assist you in your charitable endeavors. But I hope with all my heart that you’ll allow me to do so as your husband.’

Alice didn’t understand.

‘I’m asking for your hand in marriage,’ Leopold explained. ‘But . . . Your Highness, are you sure?’

‘That is not exactly the answer for which I was hoping. Alice, you are a most uncommon commoner, to say the least, and I would be proud to call myself your husband. Of course, you realize that you will not have the title of Princess, nor be entitled to ownership of the royal estates?’

‘Of course.’ Marriage? Again, she felt the tug of a long-buried affection for one who . . . No no no! Think of other things. Be realistic. The marriage would please her mother. She would do it for her mother, for her family’s sake. ‘I accept, Leopold.’

She let herself be kissed, feeling the coolness of dusk settle in around her.

‘I have already spoken with the Queen and I have asked for, and received, your father’s blessing,’ the Prince said. ‘We shall host a party to announce the engagement.’

If she’d had time to think about it, Alice might have stopped herself, considering the idea too whimsical. But the words had a force of their own, and only after she said them aloud did she realize just how appropriate the idea was.

‘Let’s have a masquerade.’

Yes, it felt right: a masquerade to celebrate the orphan girl’s impending marriage to Prince Leopold of Great Britain.

Wonderland Look-Alikes: Some of the People Lewis Carroll Got Wrong

Princess Alyss Heart’s history was a bloody tale, full of power and terror and even a glowing glimmer of hope. When Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) heard the harrowing story, he was full of good intentions. Jotting down her story he tried to help the troubled foundling, adopted by his dear friends, to adjust to her own childhood in Victorian England.

The writer did his best, crafting a story of whimsy that amused children and adults alike—however, they did not amuse Alice Liddell (as she had become accustomed to calling herself over the years since departing the adventures in Wonderland). The familiar faces of her childhood were warped, the truth obscured.

These are the facts behind Lewis Carroll’s fabrications:

Bibwit Harte (The White Rabbit)

Bibwit, like so many others, figured prominently in the stories Princess Alyss Heart imparted to Charles Dodgson thus resulting in his being written into the book as the character of the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures Underground. He became this particular character because his name could be anagrammed to spell: “White Rabbit.”

An imperious, but loving 6-foot-tall albino with pale green veins that pulse beneath his alabaster skin, Bibwit is known for his excellent hearing, swift body and razor wit. He is also fond of conversing with others and is often fond chatting with anyone who will take the time to listen, including the flowers that populate the palace grounds.

Trained in the Tutor Corps in the tradition of his kind, Bibwit was head of his class, excelling in everything he set his mind to. Though his people act as great conveyors of knowledge, they lack the ability to utilize the magic of Imagination themselves—and so excel as instructors. Becoming the Royal Tutor to the Queens of Wonderland was an honor bestowed on Bibwit for his unparalleled grasp of the principles of Light Imagination.

Capable of doing six things at once, Bibwit can often predict what the Queen will say and always follows orders to the letter. His sensitivity, however, makes him fragile physically and emotionally. As he takes pride in the triumphs of those he has trained, so to does he take their failures to heart and look for the fault within himself. 

Such is the case when Rose Heart, the princess who would one day be disowned and become Redd (The Red Queen), begins to tread upon those darker paths, turning her back on light imagination and committing fully to the path of dark imagination. In the years following her exile, Bibwit often blamed himself for failing her, attributing her fall to a failure in her education. 

Bibwit would have tutored Princess Alyss as he did for her mother Queen Genevieve (The White Queen) had Redd’s coup not ousted the Princess from Wonderland. Though he obeyed Redd during her terrible reign, he did so only to maintain a place in her court— while funneling information back to the Alyssian resistance.

Upon Alyss’ return to Wonderland, Bibwit will be among her closest allies. Resuming her education, the Royal Tutor will assist Alyss in preparing to navigate her Looking Glass Maze. 

Bibwit Harte from The Looking Glass Wars vs Lewis Carroll's White Rabbit

General Doppelgänger (Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum)

The Commander of the Royal Army, General Doppelgänger is made up of two people, Doppel and Gänger, whose natural state is to reside within one body. The able warrior distinguished himself in the war between Genevieve and Redd for the throne, becoming a close compatriot of The White Queen.

Through much of Wonderland’s history the condition suffered by General Doppelgänger was considered purely mental, a split personality disorder. That is until a pioneering physician found a way to unravel the afflicted person into two (or more) distinct people.

 This clarified the problem but was an imperfect solution as many of the twins, once disentwined, became traumatized. The true breakthrough came a generation later, when a method was devised which allowed the twins to be either one singular being or separated into two or more beings at will.

As Alyss told Lewis Carroll of her mother’s loyal servant that could split in two, the author took liberties to contain the martial nature of Wonderland’s leading military mind into the farcical Tweedledee and Tweedledum (thanks to a little help from the poetry he was constantly consuming).

The truth of the matter is the General was one of the few present at Redd’s attack on Heart Palace to escape the palace with both their lives and their freedom that day, alongside a handful of chessmen and the traumatized Dodge Anders. 

Together the beaten and grieving group made their way into the Everlasting Forest and over the following weeks, General Doppelgänger would work alongside these forces and the others who fled Wondertropolis to establish the Alyssians. Named for the lost princess that all assumed dead, the rebels dared to strike back at Redd Heart. 

At the height of their activities, the Alyssian forces struck out at strategic locations striving to right the worst of the wrongs committed by Redd. However, as the years of tyranny mount, the strength of the rebels begins to wane, creating a dire situation at the time of Alyss’ return.

With the rightful heir returned to Wonderland, General Doppelgänger is unflinchingly prepared to oust Redd from the throne.

General Doppelgänger from The Looking Glass Wars vs. Lewis Carroll's Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

Frog Messengers

Though being a rather humble member of the Royal Court in Wonderland, with what most could call a “simple” job— the Frog Messenger is insultingly misrepresented as “the Frog Footman” in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

While the character in Lewis Carroll’s children’s tale sits with an invitation undelivered for days, to royalty no less, the Frog Messengers of Wonderland would never delay in carrying out their courier duties. They would also have you know a Frog Messenger would never tangle their wigs with the Fish Footman—because everyone knows Fish Footmen do not wear wigs!

The Frog Messenger from The Looking Glass Wars vs. Lewis Carroll's Frog Messenger

The Walrus

A butler at Heart Palace whose uniform is a tuxedo jacket two sizes too small. He’s a servant—first of Genevieve, then Redd; a comic figure whose helpless innocence and good wishes for all endear him to anyone he meets (except maybe Redd and her vicious servant known, wrongly, to some as the Cheshire Cat). 

He carries a pouch of dust around the palace, sprinkling dust on objects and surfaces as needed—Wonderland’s version of our household chore known as “dusting.” When nervous or worried, the Walrus tends to overcompensate by, bringing endless supplies of refreshments.

How Lewis Carroll could twist the selfless servant of the ruling family is beyond Alyss. While the character in The Walrus and Carpenter poem within the absurd book is a glutton for oysters, the Princess could not recall at any time seeing the Walrus consume even so much as a tarty tart. Surly the sweet creature did eat, but never in sight of anyone.

After surviving, and escaping, Redd’s oppression on Mt. Isolation the Walrus will hold the honor of being the first to call Alyss “Queen” after she successfully navigates her Looking Glass Maze.

The Walrus Butler from The Looking Glass Wars vs. Lewis Carroll's Walrus

The Mother of Alyss Heart, Queen Genevieve

For Wonderland’s Queen Genevieve, (White Queen) even the most festive occasions could be clouded by the less savory aspects of governing. Her daughter Alyss (Alice) celebrating a seventh birthday party at Heart Palace was, by contrast, making all economic worries, political concerns, and military threats feel more acute. 

Especially the military threats. 

Unconfirmed reports suggested that Redd (Red Queen) was growing more powerful, in the final stages of outfitting troops for an attack, and Genevieve was no longer sure that her forces could provide adequate defense. 

Needing a moment of solitude, she slipped away to her private rooms, leaving the guests to their entertainments. In a salon filled with overstuffed couches and giant pillows, she studied her reflection in a looking glass. It wasn’t just the political machinations and constant military strategizing that was bothering her. Alyss’s birthday had made her feel old.

Queen Genevieve Heart

She saw lines at the corners of her eyes and framing her mouth. In the not too distant future, Alyss might also find herself prematurely aged by the responsibilities of being a sovereign, although Genevieve hoped not. She wanted to believe that her daughter would handle the crown better than she ever could—she who, at Alyss’s age, and for a good many years after, had never supposed that she would be queen. Her older sister, Rose, was to have ruled Wonderland. And if only Rose—now known as Redd, for her proclivity to bloodshed, hadn’t been so— 

A plume of blue smoke passed between Genevieve and her reflection, interrupting her thoughts. She smelled a familiar spicy-sweet aroma and turned to see a giant blue caterpillar coiled dreamily around his hookah. Ordinarily, Genevieve would have been annoyed to discover anyone in her private sanctuary without having been invited, but this outsize larva wasn’t just anybody.

He was one of Wonderland’s eight caterpillar-oracles who kept watch over the Heart Crystal—the power source for all creation. Whatever passed into the crystal went out into the universe to inspire imaginations in other worlds. An unexpected visit from an oracle was rarely a good thing, but Genevieve wanted to believe that this was one such exception. 

“Your presence is an honor,” she said. “Princess Alyss will be so pleased that you could attend her party.” 

“Ahem hum hum,” grumbled the blue caterpillar, exhaling a cloud of smoke. 

The smoke formed the shape of a butterfly with extended wings, then metamorphosed into a confusion of scenes. Genevieve saw a large cat grooming itself. She saw what looked like a lightning bolt. She saw Redd’s face. Then the smoke again formed the shape of a butterfly, which folded its wings, and Genevieve awoke on a couch with the smell of tobacco in her nostrils. The caterpillar was gone. Her bodyguard Hatter Madigan and a walrus in a tuxedo jacket were standing over her. 

“You must have fainted, madam,” said the walrus. “I will get you some water.” 

The walrus hurried out of the room. The queen remained silent for several moments. 

“The blue caterpillar was here,” she said finally. “I’m not quite sure what he showed me.” 

“I’ll inform General Doppelgänger and the Millinery,” Hatter said. “We’ll be on alert for whatever’s coming.” 

Just once, Queen Genevieve would have liked to relax the watchful vigilance she was forced to maintain every hour of every day to ensure Wonderland’s safety. The caterpillars’ prophecies were always so vague. Sometimes their visions reflected only possibilities, the dark wishes of those who never planned to carry them out. But she couldn’t take a chance, not when it concerned Redd. 

“Make sure not to alarm our guests,” she said. 

It might have been better to end the birthday celebration, however, and had Genevieve lived, she undoubtedly would have scolded herself for not doing so. 

The partygoers were enjoying tea and wondercrumpets in the South Dining Room when a kitten (you might know as the Cheshire Cat) trotted into the room and transformed into a muscled humanoid with a feline head and claws as long and glinting as any blade from Hatter Madigan’s arsenal. The room shook from an explosion, and Redd sashayed in amid a welter of dust and rubble, followed by a mob of rejects from the Wonderland Decks—the platoons of card soldiers that made up a large portion of the queendom’s military.

General Doppelgänger ran behind a curtain and pulled a lever attached to a crank half buried in the floor; the black floor tiles of the room flipped over to reveal a cadre of chessmen—knights, rooks, bishops, pawns—who faced off against the invading card soldiers, blades swinging and bodies falling. 

With a flick of his wrist, Hatter Madigan (the Mad Hatter) flattened his top hat into a series of S-shaped rotary blades, which he sent slicing through the enemy, while Queen Genevieve—out of her chair, sword drawn as soon as she saw The Cat—engaged against Redd’s soldiers two and three at a time, conjuring knives, sabers, and spiked clubs for herself whenever one was knocked from her grip. ---

She was always armed with four weapons at once, her imagination swinging two of them, to fend off attacks from behind. If, solely by the power of her imagination, Genevieve could have imagined the invaders dead, piled in a heap in the center of the room—her sister included—she would have. But by imagination alone, nobody could kill a creature that had the will to live.

Which was too bad, because Redd, unharmed in the midst of battle, lifted Princess Alyss out from under a table, held the girl aloft by her hair, and wrinkled her already wrinkled face as if she were clutching some detestable pest.

“Let her go,” Genevieve said, stalling, knowing that Redd wouldn’t. “Please.”

Redd scoffed and spat out words that Genevieve hardly heard, alert for the slightest opportunity to free Alyss, but then Redd conjured a scene—silent, moving phantoms on a screen of red smoke: Genevieve’s husband King Nolan, on his way home from negotiations with neighboring Boarderland, had been ambushed and killed by Redd.

Genevieve lost control of herself. She imagined eighteen dagger-sharp cones into existence and directed them toward Redd; she imagined double-edged spears cartwheeling toward Redd: all of which her sister easily relegated to dust.

Redd had always been the more imaginatively gifted, as Genevieve well knew.


Redd dropped Alyss, who had stabbed her forearm with something on her necklace.

Queen Genevieve and Princess Alyss

Genevieve grabbed her daughter’s hand and ran to her private rooms, knowing that she wouldn’t survive but also that she didn’t need to—not for Wonderland’s sake—if Alyss could be kept alive.

The humanoid feline pounced at them, seeming to come out of nowhere, but before he could swipe them with a single claw— thwip! — he fell to the floor, a blade in his chest.

Hatter Madigan stepped up to the fallen assassin and pulled his top hat blades free of the mortal wound.

“Take Alyss and go,” Genevieve said to him, pointing at a looking glass. “As far away as possible. You must keep the princess safe until she’s old enough to rule. She’s the only chance Wonderland has to survive.” 

Genevieve knelt in front of Alyss. “No matter what happens, I will always be near you, sweetheart. On the other side of the looking glass. And never forget who you are. Do you understand?” 

“I want to stay with you.” 

“I know. I love you.” 

“No! I’m staying!’ 

Alyss threw her arms around her mother. 

A wall crashed down and there stood Redd, a platoon of card soldiers at her back. “Aw, how sweet. Let’s have a group hug,” she said, hardly looking like the hugging type. 

Hatter picked up Alyss and jumped into the looking glass. Genevieve smashed the glass and turned to face Redd, unable to believe it when, in her peripheral vision, she saw The Cat, on the floor with a gaping hole in his chest, open his eyes. His wound healed and he sprang at her. She conjured a white bolt of energy from her imagination and thrust it into him, killing him a second time. 

Redd laughed derisively and pulled the jagged bolt out of The Cat. The bolt turned crimson in her hand, and she slammed it into the floor; dozens of black roses sprouted from the point of impact, their thorny stems wrapping themselves around Genevieve, pricking and binding her. 

“Well, Gen, what can I say?” Redd seethed. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m tickled to see you go.” 

Pulling the energy bolt out of the floor, she swung it at her sister’s neck. 

Genevieve’s headless body slumped to the floor, her crown rolling along the polished stone tiles like a dropped coin.

The House of Hearts: (from left) Princess Rose Heart, Queen Theodora Heart, King Tyman Heart, and Princess Genevieve

Princesses Genevieve and Rose Heart had once been inseparable, their different temperaments complementing each other. Where Redd was opinionated, undisciplined, and flirtatious, Genevieve was quiet, studious, and proper. Both were intelligent. Both were gifted with powerful imaginations, though Redd’s was stronger, and it required little effort for her to imagine into existence what Genevieve had to regularly practice.

Genevieve naturally looked up to her charismatic older sister. She didn’t agree with everything Rose did, but she often wished to be more like her—freer, publicly confident, treating life as if it were a game she’d already deservedly won.

But Rose was heir to the throne, and as the time for her accession drew nearer, the differences that had once brought the sisters together began to push them apart. She became increasingly arrogant and contemptuous. Her lack of discipline, which had seemed like a cavalier disregard for stuffy conventions, evolved into a general unruliness that included more than just dabbling in illegalities.

Again and again, Genevieve found herself trying to defend her sister’s behavior to their mother, Queen Theodora, (Queen of Wonderland). Again and again, she made excuses for Rose’s non-appearance at royal functions, lying for her sister, saying that Rose was sick in bed when she was actually out with sleazy characters, lolling in some artificial crystal den (an opium den of Wonderland).

She frequently tried talking Rose out of her bad behavior.

“Perhaps you shouldn’t doubt Mother in front of her advisers,” she once said. “It comes off as if you’re questioning the queen’s authority, which many see as undermining it.”

“If she makes a dumb decision, I’m supposed to let her?” Rose had answered. “I should just sit back and be quiet and let her compromise my inheritance? Our inheritance, I should say,

although you won’t have the burden of running the queendom.”

She’s spoiled, Genevieve thought, wondering how Rose came to be that way when she herself wasn’t. Their parents hadn’t been particularly indulgent, had sought to instill in them a reverence for Light Imagination, the principles of which were guided by love, a sense of justice and duty to the well-being of others. Genevieve and her sister had grown up surrounded by wealth and privilege, but Genevieve could not help thinking of those less fortunate, whereas Rose seemed to take wealth, privilege, and authority as her due.

Quietly disappointed in her sister, Genevieve still never expected Rose to be removed from succession. Nor did she long for it. She wasn’t grasping or envious; she had no desire to be queen. Yet Genevieve considered it the responsible thing, appropriate to her title and station, to be schooled in swordplay and all things martial.

Besides, it couldn’t hurt for a woman to know how to defend herself.

So, she trained as warrior queens of earlier generations had done, and exercised her imagination daily, gaining impressive control and nuance in her conjuring’s.

Then things worsened: Rose was pregnant and refused to identify the father.

Embarrassed by such disdain for social norms, for the well-being of a child born out of wedlock, Genevieve was ashamed of her sister. But she felt protective, too; Rose—with child, physically sensitive, hormonally wrought—was at her most vulnerable.

Rose gave birth to a healthy girl, but Queen Theodora, enlisting Genevieve in the subterfuge, convinced her that the baby hadn’t survived. Genevieve, who felt guilty about lying to her sister, hoped that the “loss” of the child would induce Rose to improve her behavior. And it’s possible, though doubtful, that it would have, if Theodora hadn’t done what she did next. Genevieve found out only afterward, Rose raging, her voice echoing throughout the palace. 

The eldest Heart daughter had been removed from succession, replaced by the younger. 

Rose burst into Genevieve’s rooms and accused her of having connived for the crown all along. 

Denying this, Genevieve said, “I want the best for you, Rose. I always have. Do I wish that you’d be less stubborn in your refusal to abide by anyone’s rules but your own? Yes, but—” 

Rose swore vengeance. 

“Your inclination for vengeance is part of the problem,” Genevieve tried, but too late; her sister was stalking out of the rooms. 

She did want the best for Rose and believed that she always would, but all scrap of sisterly love disintegrated after Rose sneaked into Theodora’s bedchamber one night and placed a fatal mushroom on her tongue. 

For the good of the queendom, Genevieve was coronated. Furious, Rose threw off her given name in favor of “Redd,” promising that unbridled bloodshed would splatter the doorstep of every Wonderlander. Both sisters gathered their followers and Wonderland succumbed to civil war, during which Redd lived up to her promise. Genevieve proved victorious only because of the superiority of her army. She banished Redd from the realm, and the daily life of Wonderland returned to what might be called “normal.” 

Queen Genevieve ruled judiciously, guided by the precepts of Light Imagination, but never for a second—and especially not after she gave birth to Alyss—did she forget that dark forces were at work in The Chessboard Desert, where Redd had ensconced herself in a bleak fortress dubbed Mt. Isolation. Sooner or later, Genevieve knew, Redd would attack the queendom, and it would require all of her imaginative powers and then some to ensure its survival... and Alyss’s.

Where In Wonderland? Key Locations of The Looking Glass Wars

The Wonderland of The Looking Glass Wars is full of places that perhaps you know from Lewis Carroll’s (sanitized) Alice In Wonderland. However, the truth behind the fiction is far more epic, beautiful, and at times dangerous.

Here are but a few of the highlights a Wonderverse traveler would see upon stepping through the looking glass:

The Pool of Tears

Unlike the Pool of Tears as described by Lewis Carroll, “Alice” (Alyss) did not cry this body of water alone. A swirling, luminescent lake of water, a portal connecting Wonderland to other worlds (notably Earth), and the means by which Hatter Madigan and seven-year-old Princess Alyss escape Redd Heart’s (the Red Queen’s) murderous intentions. 

At the start of The Looking Glass Wars, no one who has entered the pool has ever returned. Loved ones of Wonderlanders who’ve vanished into its depths sometimes stand on an overlooking cliff, mourning, letting their tears drop into the water; hence the name. 

On Earth, the portal manifests as puddles where no puddles should be, such as in a desert. Though the Pool of Tears is the only portal entry/exit point in Wonderland, there are numerous puddles where no puddles should be on Earth providing access. 

Essentially, the pool is an open channel through which Wonderland’s most dangerous elements can, at any time, intrude upon the already treacherous world of Victorian England and beyond. 

Top: The Pool of Tears from The Looking Glass Wars; bottom: Alice in the Pool of Tears by John Tenniel

House Of Cards

This structure is to Wonderland what the Red Keep was to King’s Landing. The House of Cards is center of military and political wheeling and dealing in the Queendom. From here Card Soldiers (no, not the stick figures with playing cards for bodies in the Disney adaptation) are dealt into battle— a source of might that Redd abuses at every turn during her reign to inflict her tyrannical whims.

The Suit Families, powerful houses that rule over Wonderland, each retain presence in the House of Cards— or at least they did until Redd came to power and announced that she needed no advisors, only loyal obedient subjects. While the Suit Families kept their heads by playing along, not all are so loyal to the wicked despot. The halls of the House of Cards echo with schemes and deceptions, feeding into The Queen of Heart’s paranoia.

The House of Cards, from Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars series

The Millinery

The training campus of Wonderland’s elite security force, where those born to protect the queendom are molded into spies, assassins, and bodyguards.

 Its graduates—the famed Hatter Madigan (perhaps you know him as The Mad Hatter) and his brother Dalton among them—are called Milliners on account of the hats they wear, which serve as their most potent weapons and allies in combat. 

The Millinery, complete with training fields and dormitories, sits within the capital city of Wondertropolis. Its buildings and outer wall are constructed largely of silk from the queendom’s caterpillar-oracles, each color of which has certain properties that protect students from outside threats. (The Blue Caterpillar of Lewis Carroll’s creation makes more smoke than thread—a stark difference between the fiction and truth of the story Alyss told him.)

The building in which classes are held, instilling the Milliner ethic (stoicism, duty above all else), is shaped like a top hat. The campus’s state-of-the-art training arena, known as the HATBOX (Holographic and Transmutative Base of Xtremecombat), is comparable to Star Trek’s Holodeck . . . but, with all due respect, it’s cooler. (For more on this amazing thread-tech, read Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the HATBOX)

The Millinery from Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars series

Valley Of Mushrooms

A landscape of giant mushrooms nestled within a ring of twilight-blue mountains, home to Wonderland’s caterpillar-oracles. No two mushrooms are alike, and what with the play of light on their caps and the many-hued shadows cast on the valley floor, visitors are inevitably greeted with a sight of impressive kaleidoscopic brilliance. 

Should a visitor be remarkable enough for the caterpillar council to reveal itself, she would see six caterpillars nearly the size of jabberwocky (large!), their bodies coiled beneath them as they smoked from the same ancient hookah. Each of them would be sitting on a mushroom as distinct in color as himself: red, orange, green, blue and violet.

Redd, concerned that the caterpillars might breed dissent with their predictions, tries to do away with them when she first takes control of Wonderland. But every time she attacks, they see her coming and vanish like smoke. So she exercises her rage on their beloved valley, and now its colors, which were once like the sprouting of renewed hope, are muted, scraped, marred. Mushroom stalks everywhere are hacked, and butchered caps litter the dank ground. 

The once magical place is a fungal wasteland, as it will remain until, if ever, it’s allowed to grow back to its former splendor.

Left: The Valley of Mushrooms from The Looking Glass Wars; Right: The Blue Caterpillar on his Mushroom by John Tenniel

Crystal Continuum

A network of byways that enables Wonderlanders to enter through one looking glass and exit from another. Focused looking glasses lead to specific destinations. Unfocused looking glasses allow travelers to choose their own destinations, provided there are looking glasses at those destinations out of which they can be reflected. 

It takes practice to stay inside the continuum and master basic navigational skills, because just as a body underwater tends to rise to the surface, a body entering a looking glass wants to be reflected out. An inexperienced traveler might enter a looking glass in her own home, thinking to pay a visit to a friend across town, only to be reflected out of a looking glass at her next-door neighbor’s. Given time and experience, she would be able to make the trip. 

Covering long distances in the Crystal Continuum is possible only for the most experienced traveler, but short trips are within the skill range of everyone.

The Crystal Continuum

Chessboard Desert 

This is not the “curious country” that Alice stumbled upon in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. This is the Chessboard Desert, acres of icy snow alternating with acres of tar and black rock, forming what looks from the air like a giant chessboard. A place of pain and hardship, the desert is home to Jabberwoky and ShardBeasts— only after being removed from succession to Wonderland’s throne, Redd Heart was banished to this inhospitable region, living in a fortress on Mt. Isolation. The tyrannical practitioner of Dark Imagination launched both the unsuccessful war against her sister Queen Genevieve (the White Queen)—then later, the bloody coup that would kill Genevieve and exile Alyss to Earth. 

Left: The Chessboard Desert from The Looking Glass Wars; Right: The Chessboard from Alice In Wonderland by John Tenniel

Looking Glass Maze

A unique Looking Glass Maze exists for every would-be sovereign of Wonderland, which she must successfully navigate to reach her imagination’s full potential and become a Warrior Queen (i.e., fit to rule). 

As a sacred Wonderland text states, “Only she for whom a Looking Glass Maze is intended can enter.” But where a given maze might be, or what it consists of exactly (it’s a test of both physical skill and emotional maturity), only the caterpillar-oracles allegedly know. One who successfully completes her maze emerges with her scepter, which serves as both token of her newfound power and a tool for its exercise. 

Redd Heart hasn’t gone through her Looking Glass Maze, which is why, if Alyss can find and successfully navigate hers, the usurper just might be defeated.

Alyss Heart's Looking Glass Maze