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Literature: Aliss
Patrick Senécal's Aliss (2000) is a Bloodier and Gorier rewrite of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, set in Daresbury, a mysterious quarter of Montréal. The teenage Aliss, rebelling against her normal life, finds herself following an absent-minded older man, Charles, to the previously invisible Daresbury stop on the Metro. Shortly after her arrival, she becomes obsessed with the mysterious building near her apartment, the residence of the Red Queen. Soon, Aliss decides that she will do anything to enter the Red Queen's employ—no matter how dangerous.

The novel is available only in French.


Tropes:

  • Alice Allusion
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Bone and Chair, although Bone is more liable to get off topic.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Bone's neo-Victorian suit and top hat.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Red Queen; Bone and Chair.
  • Babies Ever After: The last words of the novel.
  • Bi the Way: Andromaque.
  • Big Bad: The Red Queen.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There's some untranslated English.
  • Black Comedy: Usually involving Bone and Chair. The highlights include their reaction to Pouf tossing himself out a window (see What an Idiot on the YMMV page) and their Big Damn Heroes moment during the attempted assassination of the Red Queen.
  • Body Horror: Quite frequently.
    • Bone and Chair vivisect people (and cats) as part of their scientific research into the existence of the soul.
    • Verrue's decomposing leg.
    • Charles's work of art in the kitchen.
  • The Bore: Mickey and Minnie may be into bondage (see below), but the other characters find them excruciatingly dull.
  • Brains and Bondage: Parodied with Mickey and Minnie.
  • Breaking Speech: The Red Queen delivers one to Aliss at the climax of the trial, exploding Aliss's fantasies about living in a Nietzsche-esque world.
  • British Accents: Bone speaks French with an English accent. The novel never clarifies if this is an affectation or if he's actually English.
  • Butt Monkey: Pouf, who may be an Expy for Bill the Lizard.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin
  • Childless Dystopia: Lampshaded by Mario. Although birth control doesn't appear to exist, there are virtually no pregnancies. Andromaque is the sole exception.
  • Clock King: Charles has a thing about being late.
  • Cloudcuckooland: This is Alice in Wonderland, after all. The novel's denizens range from pleasant but offbeat to full-blown villains. Most of them, however, are simply True Neutral: they have no real moral sense or taboos, and many are completely lacking in empathy.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Bone's and Chair's elaborate explanation for why they took so long to show up when La Résistance was trying to assassinate the Red Queen. As they quite seriously inform Aliss and the Queen, they'd locked themselves out of the car, and were debating about whether or not to break the window in order to get their guns. The Red Queen does not find this entertaining.
  • Composite Character: The Red Queen (Queen of Hearts/Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass).
    • Charles is both the White Rabbit and Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll.
    • Given that they serve as the Red Queen's messengers, Bone and Chair are both the Mad Hatter/March Hare and their Looking Glass counterparts, Hatta/Haigha.
  • Covers Always Lie: Aliss finds Bone and Chair relatively attractive, but you wouldn't know that from the cover, where they're both distorted grotesques.
  • Crapsack World: The Red Queen runs Daresbury like it's Gangster Land, complete with regular demands for protection money. If you don't pay up, you'll get a visit from one of her "servants," or, worse still, Bone and Chair. Moreover, much of Daresbury looks like a crumbling slum.
  • Creepy Housekeeper: Bone's and Chair's grotesque housekeeper.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The Red Queen's "art exhibitions."
    • Becomes Taxidermy Terror when Aliss finally manages to see inside one of the rooms.
  • Deadly Doctor: Bone and Chair, who have real-world medical degrees.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Charles's suicide initially looks like it's going to play out that way. Until Chess arrives and eats his soul, that is.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Aliss believes that, thanks to the Power of Friendship, both Andromaque and the Red Queen are genuinely discovering new emotional depths. As it turns out, the novel subverts the trope. Aliss is completely wrong about the Red Queen, which is par for the course. In Andromaque's case, there really is some defrosting at work, but the results are ultimately tragic.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Bone and Chair, who consider vivisection a real turn-on.
  • The Dividual: Micha and Hugo, Bone and Chair, Mickey and Minnie. Micha and Hugo, the expies for Tweedledee and Tweedledum, are the twindividual variety, while the other two pairs are syndividuals.
  • The Dragon: Bone and Chair to the Red Queen.
  • Driven to Suicide: Charles.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Aliss's experiences with Micros and Macros are almost all nightmarish, and even when they aren't, the pills' overall effects are obviously bad.
  • Ear Ache: By sheer accident, Aliss manages to slice Chair's ear off.
  • Expy: Just about every major character has a parallel in Alice in Wonderland and/or Through the Looking Glass.
  • Fan Disservice: Every single sex scene has something grotesque, repulsive, or outright criminal about it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Bone's manners are often quite elegant. Of course, he'll happily vivisect you at a moment's notice.
  • Finger in the Mail: A rare example of the delivery making the recipient happy. Bone brings Charles a head as a gift.
  • Fingore: Chair deliberately slams a car door on Pouf's finger.
  • Follow the White Rabbit
  • Functional Addict: Played with in Chess's case. Chess looks like a stereotypical example of someone suffering from the results of Drugs Are Bad, but he's one of the more rational conversationalists in Daresbury. He gets high on souls.
  • Genre Blind: Aliss (see Nietzsche Wannabe).
  • Genre Savvy: The Red Queen knows perfectly well that she's in Alice in Wonderland.
  • Gorn: The Tea Party chapter, which features vivisection, corpses hanging from the rafters, and body parts on display.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Even the Red Queen and Bone and Chair get antsy around Chess.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Chess, who claims to have read every book in existence, can appear and disappear into any shadow (with his grin disappearing last), knows everything about any residents of Daresbury, and, oh, consumes souls. May double as a Time Abyss, as he claims only two kinds of people can see souls: those who are near death and immortals, and Chess is not near death.
  • Human Pincushion: The Red Queen executes Mario by painting a dart board on him. The audience at the trial then skewers him with gigantic darts.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender: Part of Chair's backstory: he ran track in college and had lofty ambitions, but never made it to the big leagues. However, he still wears running shoes all the time.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Andromaque's baby dies near the end, probably at Andromaque's hand.
  • Kangaroo Court: The trial at the end of Aliss' stay in Daresbury.
  • La Résistance: Mario and Pouf are in charge of it. They don't win.
  • Laughing Mad: Bone's trademark giggle.
  • Life Drinker: For Chess, souls are a drug. It's not clear if he's a vampire, an Eldritch Abomination, the Grim Reaper, or something else.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Aliss notices that Bone is wearing the same suit and hat every time she sees him.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: The basement of Bone's and Chair's house.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Several.
    • Verrue (the Caterpillar) is shot in the leg early on; then, after the leg becomes gangrenous, a doctor amputates it. With an axe. And without anesthesia. Verrue manages to stay philosophical about the entire affair.
    • Minnie keeps reading from the Marquis de Sade even though Chair has just slashed her throat open.
    • Chair seems only mildly annoyed by the loss of his ear.
    • At the end, Aliss keeps going for a surprisingly long time, despite being both shot and raped.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Daresbury itself. On the one hand, regular technology works there, residents listen to music from outside, and it's possible to leave by Metro or phone Montréal. Crucially, as Aliss discovers, the effects of Daresbury's drugs and bullets carry over to the rest of the world, and vice-versa. On the other, there's no way to walk out of Daresbury, and it can only be reached by those in the right frame of mind. There are no sexually-transmitted diseases or pregnancies (except for Andromaque's child). Moreover, at least one of the residents is immortal. There's also the matter of Verrue's fate.
  • Meaningful Rename: Alice changes her name to Aliss in Daresbury as a sign of her new life.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Aliss. Despite her best efforts, she never really stops being naïve (see Only Sane Man).
  • Nice Hat: Bone, of course.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Aliss is absolutely convinced that she's in Also Sprach Zarathustra, which is why she becomes so intent on pursuing the Red Queen: she thinks that the Queen is the "surfemme" (Superwoman). However, as several characters point out to her, she hasn't understood what little she's read of Nietzsche.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After Aliss refuses to torture Mickey, Bone shoots her in the leg, and then he and Chair abandon her. Mickey rapes her.
  • Old Dark House: Bone's and Chair's decaying Victorian-style mansion, which is weltering under years' worth of dirt.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Bone and Chair; the Hulk.
  • Only One Name: Just about everyone. Characters addressed by their last name appear not to have a first name, and vice-versa.
  • Only Sane Man: The plot revolves around Aliss's attempts to stop being this, with very mixed results.
    • Andromaque and Charles, although more closely aligned with Daresbury, have also been unable to entirely let go of their real-world moral compasses.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Daresbury justice works like this. Assault someone, and they have the right to assault you back. When Mickey attacks Aliss while she is working for the Red Queen, Bone and Chair offer her the opportunity to torture him as retribution. She can't do it, and therefore fails the Red Queen's test.
  • Pungeon Master: Bone's Verbal Tic, although Chair does this too.
  • Puppy Love: Aliss's crush on Mario, which is not reciprocated.
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": Bone and Chair are extremely cheerful during their little "experiments."
    • The audience at the trial has a grand time with the dartboard execution.
  • The Reveal: Played with. During the trial, Aliss finally lets out the Red Queen's secret past as a serial killer. Everyone is momentarily shocked, but that's it.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Andromaque speaks entirely in couplets.
  • Safe, Sane and Consensual: If you're frequenting the Red Queen's brothel, don't even think about harming a prostitute who isn't interested in BDSM. That's grounds for immediate Pay Evil unto Evil, up to possible Death by Sex (implied at the big party).
  • Scrapbook Story: Most of the novel is told in the first person, but there are also numerous framing interviews with Aliss's parents, friends, and teachers.
  • Secret Test of Character: The entire plot. The Red Queen has designed all of Aliss's experiences in Daresbury to demonstrate that she cannot abandon conventional morality.
  • Start of Darkness: 5150, Rue des Ormes and the 2012 web series La Reine Rouge for the Red Queen.
  • The Stoner: Verrue.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Poor Pouf at the tea party.
  • Telepathy: Mme. Letendre's ability to know exactly which key Aliss needs at any given time (another manifestation of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane).
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Bone and Chair.
  • Those Two Guys: Micha and Hugo (Tweedledee and Tweedledum).
  • Unconventional Formatting: When Aliss takes a Micro, the font shrinks; when she takes a Macro, it grows and shifts to ALL CAPS.
  • Verbal Tic: Most characters have one. Notably, Bone and Chair pun endlessly, Charles stutters, Andromaque rhymes, Mme. Letendre drops all her vowels, and the Hulk drops all his consonants.
  • Villainous BSOD: Andromaque collapses at the end of the novel after she murders her baby in order to free herself of real-world morality. It doesn't work.
  • Villainous Rescue: Bone and Chair save Aliss from potentially life-threatening situations three times. Aliss thinks, all evidence to the contrary, that Those Two Bad Guys are being Good Samaritans; it's only the third time, when they save her from Mickey, that she realizes the truth. It's part of the Secret Test of Character.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Andromaque's baby vomits over everything just about every time it appears.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In-universe, Verrue's disappearance.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Chair.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Aliss (see Nietzsche Wannabe), who does not seem acquainted with Alice in Wonderland.
  • You Look Familiar: It takes the entire novel for Aliss to figure out why she recognizes Mme. Letendre.

Two GravesHorror LiteratureRobert Bloch
The Alien SeriesLiterature of the 2000sAll-American Girl

alternative title(s): Aliss
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