She raised a hand to her mouth. He raised a gun to his.
Written by Kiri Callaghan
, The Terra Mirum Chronicles
are a series of stories set in the eponymous Terra Mirum, the land of dreams that humans typically only visit in their sleep. Some humans, however, are able to see the creatures of this land during their waking hours. They are the Dreamers. The lucky among them become creators: artists and storytellers and the like. The unlucky range from those thought to have overactive imaginations to the insane.
The first novella Alys
published in August 2013 is a dark retelling of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
. Alyson Carroll and Charlie Lewis have been best friends since they were in second grade. Shunned by family who don't understand them, they have big plans to run away from their small-town life in Appleweed to live in Seattle, and they've been saving up in order to make the move. However, when Charlie suddenly commits suicide, Alys is left adrift. Realizing that she has nothing left to keep her in town but an abusive, alcoholic mother, she decides she's going off to the big city on her own.
Meanwhile in Terra Mirum, the prince Oswin awakes to the hostile takeover of the palace by a Nightmare from the Nothing. The creature murders his mother, enslaves his father, and imprisons Oswin. He narrowly manages to escape, taking a detour into the human world to throw the Nightmare off his trail. Things take an interesting turn for the both of them when Oswin's sudden appearance drives Alys off the road and, unable to resist her deep curiosity, she follows him into Terra Mirum. What ensues is a fantasy adventure entwined with Alys's struggles with her inner demons.
The Terra Mirum Chronicles include examples of the following tropes
- Abusive Parents: Alys's mother Lucy. She drank, hit her daughter, and brought home a string of worthless boyfriends that warranted Alys buying a lock for her bedroom door. Charlie's father's abuse was one of the driving forces behind Charlie committing suicide.
- The Alcoholic: Lucy Carroll.
- All Just a Dream: The epilogue teases with this as Alys wakes up in the hospital after being in a car wreck.
- Animal Motif: Both the Nightmare Queen and Titania, mockingly in the first case and affectionately in the second, refer to Oswin as a rabbit. He takes the place of the white rabbit in the original tale.
- Archnemesis Dad: King Erebus possessed by the Jabberwock turns out to be the Big Bad.
- Arranged Marriage: Oberon and Titania's marriage brought some balance between the Seelie and Unseelie courts.
- Black Eyes of Evil: The Nightmare Queen.
- Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome: Depending on the Dreamer's experience, their Dreamer abilities can swing either way. Some become great successes, others end up in asylums.
- Board Games: Chess. Charlie and Alys used to play a lot, and the motif comes in handy later.
- Broken Bird: Alys. Charlie was her only real friend. Oswin is the only other person she really opens up to.
- Cool Train: Alys watches Oswin board one.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Oswin notes in the very beginning that anyone useless is disposed of during a revolution. So why is Erebus still alive after the Nightmare Queen has everything she should need from him?
- Deadpan Snarker: Alys is, in Charlie's words, "Miss Always-Has-A-Snarky-Comeback."
- Disappeared Dad: Alys doesn't even know who her father was.
- Down the Rabbit Hole: In the case, a train tunnel.
- Dream Land: Terra Mirum.
- Driven to Suicide: Charlie in the prologue, which is the catalyst for Alys's side of the story.
- Faeries Don't Believe in Humans Either: It is quite impossible for a human to speak to the denizens of Terra Mirum, let alone follow them and visit. Imagine the splash that Alys causes.
- The Fair Folk: A separate race from Dreams, and the political situation is volatile.
- Fantastic Racism: Dreams and Fae tend to look sidelong at each other.
- Fisher King: Elan Vital immediately starts to suffer once the Nightmare takes control.
- Gender-Blender Name: Robin isn't going to forgive Shakespeare for making her a man.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: The Nightmare Queen.
- Government in Exile: Oswin is on the run after the Nightmare murders his mother and brainwashes his father.
- Half-Breed Discrimination: Changelings are viewed with suspicion for being half human.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Smoke is half human, half Fae.
- Happy Marriage Charade: King Erebus was so jealous of his wife, he allowed a Nightmare into Elan Vital.
- The High Queen: Oswin's mother.
- I Know Your True Name: How the Nightmare can control people.
- Insistent Terminology: Mr. Gray and Mr. Grey. Their names do not sound alike.
- Interspecies Romance: Robin and Basir.
- The Lost Woods: The Forest of Thought.
- Mind-Control Eyes: A sign that the Nightmare has taken control of someone.
- Mystical White Hair: Oswin, the White Prince. Alys's first hint that he isn't human is his white hair.
- OOC Is Serious Business: The first sign Alys gets that something is wrong is that the sheriff arrives at the restaurant she works at an hour ahead of his usual time.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: The White King by the White Queen.
- Platonic Life Partners: Alys and Charlie. Charlie's gay.
- Reality Warper: The danger of having a Dreamer loose in Terra Mirum.
- The Reveal: The king betrayed Terra Mirum and opened the way for the Nightmare to enter.
- Shining City: Elan Vital.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: Charlie Lewis and Alyson Carroll.
- Straight Gay: Charlie.
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: Titania, fitting a queen of the Fae.
- The Wise Prince: Oswin.
- Woman in White: Aislynn, the White Queen.
- Woman in Black/Evil Wears Black: The Nightmare Queen, particularly as shown in the concept art.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: King Erebus.
- Your Worst Nightmare: Alys is prone to nightmares, particularly nightmares about her mother. The Nightmare Queen looks very like Alys's mother. The Jabberwock in Erebus's body looks very like Charlie's father.