In the mountainous city of Nevers, there lives a professor of literature called Q. He has a dull marriage and a lacklustre career, but also a scrumptious collection of antique dolls locked away in his cupboard. And soon Q lands his crowning acquisition: a life-sized ballerina named Aliss who has tantalizingly sprung to life. Guided by his mysterious friend Owlish and inspired by an inexplicably familiar painting, Q embarks on an all-consuming love affair with Aliss, oblivious to the sinister forces encroaching on his city and the protests spreading across the university that have left his classrooms all but empty. A deliciously dark subversion of the fairy-tale form set in an alternate Hong Kong, Dorothy Tse’s extraordinary debut novel is a boldly inventive exploration of life under oppressive regimes and an urgent warning against the insidious perils of apathy and indifference.