Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 445
Alice Proserpine is the young protagonist who has a peripatetic existence with her mother, Ella. They are frequently moving when their luck runs out. Her grandmother is the author of a mysterious cult classic collection of fairy tales.
Althea is Alice's grandmother. She is the author of Tales from the Hinterlands. After writing the book, she retired to her estate of Hazel Wood and disappeared from public life. The entrance to the Hinterland world in another dimension lies in Hazel Wood.
Ella, Alice's mother, spent 14 years at the Hazel Wood estate before leaving with Alice. She is relieved to hear her mother has died, as she believes this will end her misfortunes. That is, before she is kidnapped.
The Red-Haired man kidnapped Alice when she was a child, and Alice wonders if he is her father. She sees him later reading Tales from the Hinterland at her work and in the Hinterland itself.
Aubrey is Alice's step-sister, sidekick, and classmate. Harold is Alice's step-father who is planning to divorce Ella. He does not want anything to do with Ella, Alice, and the whole Hinterland business.
Ellery Finch is a classmate from a wealthy family. He appears to like Alice and is a major fan of Tales from the Hinterlands. Later, he reveals he has made a promise to the Hinterlands in order to gain access. It turns out the promise is to bring Alice, where she is ordered to commit suicide.
Twice-killed Katherine is a figure from the Hinterlands that can kill men supernaturally but leaves women alone. Alice Three-Times is an unloved black-eyed princess who grew into the body of an adult as a child, was cruel to her siblings, and when she was to be married off, killed the men that courted her.
Ness is a woman that successfully entered the Hinterlands where her partner was killed. She gives Alice some words to use to enter that will only work if the Hinterland wants her to enter.
Anya is a character in a spooky story where she learns to enter other dimensions, like the realm of the dead, through portals made with blood.
Janet is a guide figure that tells Alice, after Alice has been cast out of the Hinterlands, that it was Althea that convinced the Story Spinner to send Alice back to earth, but that doing so has opened another portal. Janet tells Alice to find the Story Spinner.
The Story Spinner is the ruler of the Hinterlands and the weaver of fairy tales that control the reality of this other dimension. Apparently, Alice has the ability to alter reality in this dimension too by telling new endings to the stories.