Secrets of Wonderland Revealed: The Epic Battle That Made Queen Redd a Monster!

Before the revelations of The Looking Glass Wars, there was a much more personal war fought in Wonderland between two sisters. The elder, Rose Heart was born to be the next Queen of Wonderland, endowed with brilliance, confidence and power, she was a natural for the throne. But Rose was the wild one, the rebellious sister, whispered to be the Heart Dynasty’s ‘Dark Seed’. 

By age 19 her wanton youthful exploits had alarmed and outraged a good deal of the population and made her vulnerable to the plottings of those who wished to wrest the throne away from the Hearts. A plot was put into motion to remove the mercurial Rose from succession and instead, make her younger sister, 17-year-old Genevieve, Wonderland’s next Queen.

A group of people sitting in chairs, a painting of characters from The House of Hearts in Frank Beddor's "The Looking Glass Wars". This features Queen Redd, or Genevieve, a King and two princesses.
The House of Hearts is the royal family of Wonderland.

Did those involved with the plot realize the far-reaching effects that their Machiavellian maneuvers would create for future worlds? Doubtful. They were concerned only with their immediate interests for they were the Lady of Clubs, Lady of Spades, and the Lady of Diamonds, each born to be a Queen, but subservient to the rule of the Hearts. 

Their hope was to divide the sisters, create chaos, remove the Hearts from power, and crown Lady Diamond – Wonderland’s next Queen. Ultimately their plan would fail, for both Rose and Genevieve would prove to be far stronger than they had anticipated, but what they did accomplish was to create a royal blood feud that would tear Wonderland apart for generations to come.

Princesses Rose and Genevieve were the William and Harry of Wonderland as they grew up the heir and second to the throne. With Rose leading the way, she and Genevieve lived the posh, aristocratic lives of royal youth. Endowed with queen-sized imaginations, startling beauty, and unbridled vivacity, they were the darlings of Wonderland’s powerbrokers as well as big hits with the adoring masses. Known for practical jokes and adorable rebellions the two were an unstoppable team until Rose began to show her darker side.

As the princesses matured the subject of their eventual marriages was never far from anyone’s thoughts. Prospective matches would be made from the eligible young royals known collectively as The Jacks. Strutting and buff, this pool of peacock males constantly competed for the attention of both Rose and Genevieve, though the more ambitious quite obviously aimed to wed the future Queen. But since childhood, both Rose and Genevieve favored one Jack above the rest, preferring his company to all the others.

The handsome, laughing, athletic Jack Nolan was widely envied for his intimate friendship with the princesses. A tight threesome, the young royals shared adventures, loyalty, and a delicately balanced romantic longing. Even though Genevieve, like everyone else, assumed that Nolan and Rose would marry, she could not help nor hide her own feelings for Nolan. Rose would often tease her about the obvious crush, but it never hurt the relationship among the ‘Royal Triangle,’ for each knew that Rose was secure.  Nolan was hers if and when she wanted to marry him, for Queens choose first.

While Genevieve’s natural exuberance was as clear as a crystal bell, Rose exhibits a disturbing selfishness. As Rose’s dark streak widened, her popularity with both the royal court and the citizens began to nosedive. Both Genevieve and Nolan plead with Rose to stop alienating others, to obey her parents Queen Theodora and King Tyman, to be careful. But Rose blew them off to run with a wild crowd of hedonists using artificial crystals and imagination stimulants.

Rose spent most of her time partying in the Valley of Mushrooms with her bad-boy lover, Prince Arch (the future King of Boarderland), and their tribe of anarchists. 

A painting of Prince Arch, the future king of Borderland, sitting on a throne inside Heart Palace, with many women sitting around him.

Queen Theodora stood outside Heart Palace listening to the drums while Genevieve attempted to cover for her older sister and defuse the Queen’s growing temper. Assisting Genevieve was Royal Tutor Bibwit Harte, a 6-foot-tall albino wearing immaculate white gloves and a brilliantly patterned floor-length coat. Pale green veins pulsed beneath his alabaster skin. Both argued Rose’s case, defending her music and youthful experimentation as pure Imagination. Queen Theodora was not convinced.

Drum circles and dancing, sex, and music, it was this nonstop bacchanalia that eventually brought Queen Theodora to the valley to deliver an ultimatum. Orchestrated by the Three Ladies of Wonderland, the showdown pitted Rose’s rebellion against Queen Theodora’s authority. As emotions escalated, Queen Theodora threatened Rose with the loss of the throne if she did not immediately submit to the rules of the court. When Rose laughed at the threat, her mother was forced to follow through.  

Redd Was Unfit To Rule

In a flash of queenly power, Theodora removed her eldest daughter from succession and placed the younger sister, Genevieve, as next in line. It was a shocking, brutal act, but entirely legal according to Wonderland bylaws. Rose was out and Genevieve was in. The Three Ladies of Wonderland smiled smugly. Their plan was going well.

Rose’s reaction to her banishment was to dye her hair blood red and drop the name ‘Rose,’ from that moment on she was to be addressed only as Redd—a symbol of all the blood she would spill. She was enraged, alienated, and deeply, everlastingly wounded.

Redd revealed the depth of her pain at being rejected by her mother when she shouted/sang “Where Do Monsters Come From”? In the song, Redd asked, “You made me, so why can’t you love me?” It would be the last time that Redd revealed her pain and vulnerability. If they called her a monster then she would be a monster.

It seemed everything had been taken from Redd and given to Genevieve. But not yet. The worst was still to come. Unknown to Queen Theodora, Redd was pregnant by one of her lovers at the time she was removed from the line of succession. She was growing dramatically weaker with each day of the pregnancy. Pale, alone, and frightened, Redd visited the Caterpillars, Wonderland’s high holy seers, to ask for help. 

The Caterpillars inhabited the Valley of Mushrooms. Redd found the giant creatures seated beneath a rusted statue of an Iron Butterfly. Each Caterpillar was a different color. Orange, Yellow, Purple, Red, Green, and Blue sitting in a semi-circle smoking from an ancient hookah. Multicolored smoke rings drifted into the air.

The Caterpillars told Redd that with the loss of the right of succession to the throne, she had lost the power to reproduce the next Queen. The energy and imagination necessary to create a future Queen is monumental and demanded a direct link with the Heart Crystal. In a sense, she would be giving birth to a new Star, not a mortal infant.

The Blue Caterpillar urged Redd to return to the palace and beg her mother to take her back or her baby would die. Redd’s last remnant of humanity, the last bit of light within her, was called upon to go to Queen Theodora and ask forgiveness in order to save her baby. But Redd, stubbornly, chose not to divulge her pregnancy.

She wanted Queen Theodora to forgive her and love her on her terms, not just because she was pregnant with Queen Theodora’s grandchild. Redd’s fatal flaw was selfishness, it had always been all about Redd. When Queen Theodora refused her daughter’s plea for forgiveness, Redd gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. At this point the darkness filled Redd, forever extinguishing the light.  With the death of Redd’s baby, a true monster was born.

Only the baby was not dead. Theodora had told Redd that her baby was stillborn and instead took her baby to a trusted family friend to raise Redd’s daughter in secrecy.  Rumors swirled for years that Prince Arch or Redd’s dashing bodyguard Dalton Madigan, (Hatter’s older brother) had fathered the lost child.

Redd’s imagination would no longer inspire music, it was now to be used only for revenge. She would soon become known throughout Wonderland as the Dark Muse. Genevieve and Nolan grieved for the loss of Rose/Redd, but found consolation in each other as they began to fall truly in love.

Genevieve idolized her older sister and suffered more than anyone over Redd’s banishment. She knew that Redd would make an amazing, brilliant queen, but Genevieve was caught in a horrible position, defending and loving the sister who now considered her a traitor. Genevieve, though an equal in imagination, did not possess Redd’s confidence and inner power. Genevieve begged her mother not to remove Redd from succession thereby forcing her onto the throne.

A painting of Queen Redd, from The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor. She is wearing a dress with flowing and sharp looking red ribbons.

Queen Theodora told Genevieve that she feared Redd was a carrier of Dark Imagination

Throughout the history of Wonderland, certain Queens were born and ruled who practiced Dark, not Light Imagination. The effects of these dark reigns were apocalyptic, both for Wonderland and the worlds that surround them. Every Queen was cautioned about the possibility of giving birth to a Dark Seed. 

Theodora ignored the warnings of others for years, refusing to believe that her beautiful Rose/Redd could be one of them. But finally, she had to admit she had been wrong. Redd could never be Queen. Genevieve argued that Theodora was mistaken, that she had been influenced by the Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades, all of whom had selfish interests in seeing Redd removed from succession. Redd was not dark, she was unique and unorthodox and yes, even wild, but it was Light Imagination that she loved.

Queen Theodora told Genevieve that she was too good to see the dark in others. “Once you are Queen, you must see both in order to rule. This is the most difficult decision of my life.”

Genevieve’s support for Redd was kept hidden from her sister by the Three Ladies who wished only to fan the flames of hatred between the sisters. There could be no accord, only division, if their agenda was to be met. For once Redd had been removed, their way was clear to force Parliament into a vote of “no confidence.” 

Everyone would have to agree that the House of Hearts was far from steady. Once Genevieve was officially next in line for the throne, they would throw down the ultimate Wonderland challenge to the Hearts rule, the Duel of Imagination. Genevieve would have to face Lady Diamond in what was essentially an Imagination Slam. Should she be defeated, control of the Heart Crystal and rule of Wonderland would pass to the House of Diamonds. 

Throughout the history of Wonderland, the Hearts have always won these rare challenges to their rule, but the Three Ladies were betting that this time it would be different. 

This time, the Hearts would fall

A painting of Genevieve, from Frank Beddor's "The Looking Glass Wars, wearing a green wedding dress, standing in a pink and reddish hallway.

Redd’s hatred and sense of injustice exploded when Genevieve and Jack Nolan’s wedding was announced. It seemed everything had been taken from Redd and given to Genevieve. Redd’s pain mutated into rage, the darkness grew and she vowed to seek revenge for her mother’s betrayal.

It was Genevieve’s Wedding Day and the Heart Palace was thrown open for the traditional Masquerade Wedding Ball. Invitations for the ball were sent out across Wonderland to not only the Royal Suits and other high-ranking persons, but to all manner of inventors and muses. A centuries-old tradition, the masquerade ball was a rare event celebrated only upon the wedding of a future Queen. The guests competed to have the most outrageous, imaginative costume which— this being Wonderland— was quite a competition.

During the ball, Genevieve discovered Redd in the palace. Rather than sounding an alarm, Genevieve embraced her sister, “I knew you would come for our wedding.” 

Redd pushed Genevieve away. She told her she had been “in mourning for all that has been stolen from me”. Genevieve, still loving and wanting to believe in her sister, did not alert the guards that Redd was inside the palace. How do you stop loving your sister? Genevieve’s loyalty would cost the Heart’s dearly.

Image of Queen Redd in a red bustier that is ready for battle in "The Looking Glass Wars" by author: Frank Beddor.

Later that night, to avenge her losses, Redd killed her mother. “Even you cannot take away what is mine by birthright,” Redd placed a deadly pink mushroom (street name ‘pinkiepink’) on her mother’s tongue. Fed by the Queen’s saliva, the roots of the fungus worked their way down the sleeping sovereign’s throat and strangled her heart until the pink mushroom cap poked out of her mouth to signify that the heart had stopped beating.

Shocked by his daughter’s violent act and the gruesome death of his wife, King Tyman went mad and died not long after. Without a Queen, chaos threatens to engulf Wonderland. Redd had raised an army of mercenaries and was hiding out in the Crystal Caves above Wonderland imagining a future with herself as Queen. Genevieve had to be coronated immediately to avert civil war.

With Redd’s mercenaries circling Wondertropolis the Three Ladies plan had gone wildly better than they had hoped, believing it would be years before they could go to the Parliament and ask for the vote of ‘no confidence’. But with Theodora’s murder, things had moved much faster. With Parliament backing them, Genevieve was challenged to the Duel of Imagination.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Genevieve easily defeated Lady Diamond. The effect of her victory was an immediate surge of support from across Wonderland, backing the House of Hearts and their new Queen in her effort to stop a civil war. The Three Ladies had failed in their plan, but the consequences of the act were about to explode.

Genevieve, only 17, was now both wife and Queen

The world had been thrust upon her shoulders and she had no idea how to handle anything. As she wandered in the palace garden she saw a series of blue smoke rings and found the Blue Caterpillar waiting for her. It was rare indeed for any of the Caterpillars to leave the Valley of Mushrooms but Blue had traveled to give Queen Genevieve an important message, the location of her Looking Glass Maze. 

Genevieve was stunned. Like most, she had thought the Queen’s Looking Glass Maze to be only an urban legend. And now she was being given the location of hers. The Blue Caterpillar told her that if she was able to successfully navigate the maze she would be empowered far beyond her sister. Redd may think of Genevieve as a weak young girl, but in truth, she would be an empowered Warrior Queen able to fight on the battlefield. 

Once inside the maze, Genevieve was confronted by Hatter Madigan, top assassin and blade warrior. By accessing her imagination, Genevieve was able to mirror Hatter Madigan’s martial moves and so absorb his skills during her successful trip through the maze. When she emerged, Genevieve was no longer the girl who first entered but a seasoned warrior and wise Queen.

As a gift from Wonderland for her successful navigation of the maze, Genevieve was awarded the lifetime services of Hatter Madigan as Royal Bodyguard. Hatter Madigan’s martial skills and heroic devotion would prove instrumental in every battle waged between Redd and Genevieve. 

Queen Genevieve became known as the Warrior Queen and accompanied her army across the map of Wonderland as they battled Redd and her army. Wonderland suffered through five years of bloody civil war as the sisters battled again and again until Genevieve ultimately cornered Redd and defeated her.

Queen Genevieve was urged by her royal advisors to have Redd executed, but she could not kill her sister. Instead, Queen Genevieve banished Redd to Mount Isolation to live out her days alone. It was there that Redd found a stray kitten and kept it with her at all times. Was it a replacement for the child she lost? 

Or was it the beginnings of creating her own “Hatter Madigan”? A creature that she would imagine into both Cat and Man? A monster like herself.  

Once the war had ended and peace was restored, Queen Genevieve gave birth to her daughter, Princess Alyss. The final scene closing this chapter of Wonderland’s endless story was the celebration of Alyss’s birth in Wonderland while far away, atop Mt. Isolation, the lone figure of Redd had already begun imagining the apocalypse to come.

Image of Queen Redd, wearing a red dress, with a giant red hair piece, extending her arm into a thicket of roses. She is standing in a window with the suits of playing cards shapes.

The End

Epilogue – Who is Redd’s long-lost daughter? What happened to her? Where is she now?

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.