Follow TV Tropes


Literature / The Looking-Glass Wars

Go To

The Looking-Glass Wars is a trilogy of novels by Frank Beddor retelling the story of Alice in Wonderland, based on the premise that Alice Liddel, the real-life inspiration for the literary Alice, was in fact Alyss Heart, the true Queen of Wonderland, who had been exiled to our world after her Aunt Redd staged a coup.

With the memories of her homeland and true identity locked safely away in her mind, to the point that she no longer believes Wonderland ever existed, Alyss finds herself in the middle of a plot to retake Wonderland, aided by her royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan and her tutor Bibwit Harte.

The novels in the trilogy are:

  • The Looking-Glass Wars (2004)
  • Seeing Redd (2007)
  • Arch-Enemy (2009)

Not to be confused with The Looking-Glass War, a spy novel by John le Carré.

There's also a companion scrapbook, Princess Alyss of Wonderland, and a set of 6 graphic novels, Hatter M, which detail Hatter's travels looking for Alyss. Starting 2016, Beddor teamed with Adrienne Kress to write Hatter Madigan, a prequel series about Hatter's days at the Millinery Academy.


This book series contains examples of:

  • Awesome Backpack: Hatter's, which is described as being able to open like a Swiss Army knife, revealing assorted blades and corkscrews.
  • Badass Longcoat: Frank Beddor spends at least a few sentences, if not a paragraph, just describing the way Hatter Madigan's coat moves.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Wonderland is real, and the little girl who was the book's insperation was its rightful queen.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: When Redd says "off with their heads," she means it.
  • Breakout Character: Hatter Madigan not only has a graphic novel spinoff, but a prequel series about him.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Redd, who officially styles herself as "Her Imperial Viciousness" during her rule over Wonderland and actively promotes Black Imagination.
  • Cuckoo Nest: In the first book, Redd creates an illusion in which Alyss wakes up with her adoptive parents and her fiancé at her bedside, telling her that she's had a bad fever.
  • Darker and Edgier: Considerably so. Alyss' mother is killed in the first few chapters.
  • Dead Man Writing: Hatter Madigan comes across a message which his former lover, Weaver, left him in case she died before they could meet again. It reveals that they had a daughter — Homburg Molly, Alyss's new bodyguard.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: A villain named Sacrenoir can make skeletons of the dead rise to consume flesh, though it naturally goes right through them.
  • Gratuitous Princess: Alice the real-life little girl who inspired "Alice In Wonderland" was in fact Alyss, princess of the real Wonderland.
  • Imagination Destroyer: WILMA (Weapon of Inconceivable Loss and Massive Annihilation) is a weapon that destroys people's imaginations. Aunt Redd is trying to contain and stop it from coming to Earth.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Madigan, like all Hatters, is a very good fighter. And his uniform contains more knives than a cutlery convention. Including his hat.
  • In Name Only: Many of the characters have little to no similarities with their Carroll counterparts, intentionally it seems.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Redd's signature weapon are giant roses with maws lined with razor-sharp fangs to behead her victims.
  • Matriarchy: Wonderland identifies as a "Queendom", gender being the last thing that comes to mind when Alyss or Redd's legitimacy to the throne is questioned.
  • Meaningful Name: General Doppelganger can split himself into Generals Doppel and Ganger, Redd was once called Rose and has an affinity for that flower.
  • Mordor: Mount Isolation, Redd's prison and eventual stronghold.
  • Mythology Gag: Wonderland streets are named after words from "Jabberwocky", and there is a restaurant called 'The Lobster Quadrille.'
  • Nice Hat: Hatter Madigan is a member of the Millinery, where one of their biggest rules is that every member have one hat, and one hat only. It just so happens that said hat turns into a bladed boomerang disc.
  • Old Master: Bibwit Harte.
  • Out of Continues: The Cat (an assassin who can transform from cute little tabby into a vicious anthropomorphic killer) was made with nine lives — by the end of the first book he's been killed eight times, both by the heroes and as punishment for failing his mistress.
  • Prehensile Hair: Jack of Diamonds gets a pseudo-living wig as a gift from Redd for doing her bidding. Said wig can also turn into a monster and beat the crap out of people should Redd command it.
  • The Quisling: The Diamond, Spade and Club noble families are eternally ready to swear their loyalty to whoever currently has the greatest power and influence, be it the Heart clan, Queen Redd or or King Arch.
  • Rated M for Manly: Boarderland is shown to have little adages about manliness inscribed on many of its natural features on the orders of King Arch.
  • Significant Anagram: Bibwit Harte is an anagram for 'White Rabbit,' reflecting Carroll's love of anagrams.
  • Start of Darkness: Redd's past is glimpsed at, especially in Seeing Redd.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Redd's takeover of Wonderland turns it from a classic Sugar Bowl into a dystopian hellscape.
  • Sugar Bowl: For all its attempts at Darker and Edgier, the series really turned Wonderland into one of these. Its capital city is known as "Wondertropolis," there are foods with names like "Tarty Tarts," and even worms are known as "gwormmies." Of course, then Redd takes over and the place becomes a Crapsack World until Alyss returns to dethrone her.
  • Take That!: A email sent recently says about this Wonderland: "No Tim. No Johnny. No nonsense."
  • Twice-Told Tale: In-universe, no less. Carrol's story was his spin on the real events Alice told him. She is outraged when she realizes how much he changes around.
  • Weaponized Headgear: Hatter's tophat turns into s-shaped blades while Molly's homburg turns into a razor-edged shield. In fact, it's probably safe to say that this trope applies to all hats belonging to the Millinery.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: Seeing Redd features WILMA (Weapon of Inconceivable Loss and Massive Annihilation). It destroys people's imaginations.
    • And that's the modified WILMA, which is actually less dangerous than the original. The original was made to completely destroy the kingdom.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: In "Arch Enemy," Redd tries to return to her old mountain stronghold... only to discover it's been turned into a tourist attraction whose proceeds go toward promoting the principles of White Imagination. And while she did use a piece of cloth to disguise herself, the man in the ticket booth fails to realize who she is even after she balks at having to pay "to get into [her] own home," and amusingly thinks she's pretending to be herself ("You do play the part, don't you?").


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: