In our own world, Ellie and Savannah know nothing of this. They know nothing of other worlds, magic, or even each other. Until magic blooms inside, them and draws them together. After years of feeling alone, raised apart and in the wrong world, the twin sisters are reunited at last. They find their way home, and discover their destiny.
The girls are welcomed into a grand mansion, the safest place in the aftermath of the storm. There, they learn who they are and what they have to do. To restore the world, they must travel through the mansion to the center of magic and reset the balance.
They discover their magical abilities, find joy and friendship in the mansion's family, and face the dangers of the storm's left-behind magic. The journey to the center of magic is full of twists and turns, magic and excitement. Ellie and Savannah support each other to overcome obstacles along the way, knowing the whole world is depending on them.
Someone in front of her screamed. That was all the warning she had before fireballs flew in her direction. She reacted quickly, throwing up a shield against them. Heat seeped through her protective bubble, but nothing more could reach her. Yet even when that attack was over, she knew she was far from safe. The room was beginning to collapse, and a horde of enemies stood in every direction between her and a way out.
The all too familiar sensation of terror began to overwhelm her. She took a breath, allowing herself to pause for a moment. It was a technique she had taught herself, to find a quiet space in her mind even in the heat of battle. She couldn’t stop moving for a moment, but she could find stillness somewhere within.
This is for you, she reminded herself, bringing an image of her husband and children into her mind. I’ll find you again, no matter what… She couldn’t let herself believe those last brief kisses were real goodbyes, couldn’t dare imagine that all her little girls would have left of her was a short, handwritten letter.
Leaving all fears behind, she threw herself into the fight, taking strength from the memories of her family.
I will find you again. Whatever happens, I’ll find a way.
“Oh! Sorry Amber!”
Amber laughed. “You two might want to take a break and have some lemonade.”
“Thanks! Gabby! You might want to come down here!” Ellie called upstairs.
“Find me!” a muffled voice called back.
“Just a minute,” Ellie said to Amber, and she took off running up the stairs. Along the walls in the stairway were framed pictures of Amber and her daughter, most of them from their old house. Amber was a young woman with wavy brown hair and smiling brown eyes. Her five-year-old daughter Gabrielle was an unusual looking child. While her hair was like her mother’s, short, brown, and wavy, her eyes were unlike Amber’s. One was brown, the other blue. Ellie only met them a week ago, when they first moved in. According to Gabrielle, they moved a lot.
Soft laughter came from Amber’s room. Ellie opened the door. “Now where is Gabrielle?” she said loudly, looking around. The clothes in the closet shifted a little. “Where could she be?” She got down on her hands and knees, making a show of searching under the bed. “Not here.” She stood up again and began pacing the room. “Well, she’s not going to get any lemonade if she doesn’t come out soon. I’ll just look…” She moved toward the closet, “…in here!”
Before she pushed any of the clothes aside, Gabrielle jumped out of the closet and tackled her to the floor. “Got you!” she exclaimed. “Mommy made lemonade? Let’s go!” She got up and tugged at Ellie’s arm.
“Alright, I’m coming!” Ellie said, getting to her feet.
“Hey, wait up! Be careful on the stairs!”
Ellie caught up with her, taking hold of her hand to slow her down. She reached out for the wall with her other hand to try to balance them, but she only bumped one of Amber’s pictures. She reached out again to try and stop it, but it was too late. The picture came off the wall and fell down the stairs with a crash.
Amber’s voice called from the kitchen. “What happened?” She ran to the stairway to find Ellie, Gabrielle, and the broken picture frame on the floor.
“I’m sorry, Amber!” She carefully walked around the shards of glass. “I’ll clean it up. And I’ll pay for the frame if you want.”
“It’s alright, Ellie,” Amber said. She took Gabrielle’s hands and helped her jump over the broken glass. Ellie had already gone to fetch a broom from the kitchen. “Just be more careful next time.”
“I’m sorry,” Ellie said again.
After they cleaned up the mess, the three of them sat together in the kitchen, drinking lemonade. “I don’t know how you put up with me,” Ellie said.
“It’s really okay,” Amber said. “We were lucky to find you.”
“You helped us move, you babysat Gabrielle, you’ve done a lot for us.”
“You could have found anyone to do that, though.”
“Well, I think Gabrielle likes you.”
Gabrielle nodded and took another sip of lemonade. “We’re staying here, right?” she asked. “We’re not going to move anymore?”
“I can’t promise anything honey, but we’ll probably be here for a little while.”
Ellie stayed at Amber’s house for as long as she could, but when it was time to say goodbye, Gabrielle grabbed her hand and ran upstairs with her. She pulled her into her room, slamming the door behind them.
“Honey, I gotta leave soon!” Ellie said.
“No,” Gabrielle said. “You can stay with us!”
“I’d like to but I can’t. You’ll see me soon though, I promise. Wanna know a secret?”
“Yeah!” Gabrielle whispered.
“Promise not to tell anyone?”
She nodded. “Promise.”
“Okay, come here.” Ellie sat on the floor next to her, and whispered in her ear.
“But Ellie, how—?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. See you tomorrow, alright?”
“And on your birthday, too?”
“Heh. Almost forgot that’s coming up. Fourteen.”
“Yep. I’m an old lady. I should see you then, hopefully.”
Ellie went back down the stairs with Gabrielle, reluctantly said goodbye, and began the walk home. Amber had offered her a ride, but Ellie liked walking alone in the summer evenings. She also wanted to put off going home for as long as possible.
The street was quiet and peaceful, the only noise coming from a few children playing outside, and sprinklers watering neat, green lawns. The air was pleasantly cool, and she walked slowly, singing to herself, envious of Amber’s voice. Sometimes Amber would sing for them when Ellie visited, and her voice was so beautiful Gabrielle said it was like magic. As childish as Ellie knew it was, she agreed with Gabrielle. Amber could make anyone believe in magic, with the songs she sang and the stories she told.
After walking several blocks and across a busy street, the charming sights of Amber’s neighborhood disappeared. Here, the houses were smaller, the yards overgrown, and it was far more common to hear people shouting at each other than children’s laughter.
When she arrived home, her mother was still at work, but there was her father, slumped on the couch, drinking a beer and watching TV. He wore a dirty white shirt exposing his round stomach, and a pair of tattered jeans. Several empty bottles littered the table in front of him.
“Hey Dad,” she said.
“Hey,” he grunted, without looking up.
She went into the kitchen to grab a snack. “You makin’ dinner, kid?” her dad called.
“Nope, I already ate.”
“Well I’m hungry.” His words slurred together. Just the sound of his voice made her angry.
“So make yourself something.” She grabbed a soda and a bag of chips from the kitchen, and went to her room, slamming the door behind her. Her room was tiny, and her bed was only a mattress on the floor. The whole house was tiny, and cluttered with what Ellie thought of as her dad’s mess. Amber’s new house was small too, but clean, cozy, and comfortable, quite unlike this run-down, dirty place. Her room was the only one that wasn’t in complete shambles, though she would never call it clean. The floor was littered with clothes and books, and a couple of empty soda cans crowded her dresser, along with papers, notebooks, and various other school things. She had always dreamed of living in a bigger house, ideally a huge one, but they didn’t have the money. Her father had lost his job, and taken to lazing around the house. To avoid him, her mother spent most of her time at work, and didn’t come home until late at night. Ellie didn’t mind. Her mother’s voice was loud and whiny, and she and Ellie’s father fought constantly. Ellie used to tell herself she loved her parents, and was simply angry with them for the mistakes they made, but she decided there had to be a time when constant anger turned to hatred. She hated her parents, hated that she was related to such awful people. Eventually she figured she couldn’t be. She told herself that so often she almost had herself convinced it was true.
She turned on her radio and cranked up the volume, setting down her snack next to it. Then she went to the closet, rummaging around while singing at the top of her voice.
“Will you turn that racket down!” her dad yelled.
“Nope!” She sang louder.
More yelling came from the living room, but Ellie ignored it. She pulled her bag out of the closet and tossed it on her bed. It was ready to go. A moment later she heard footsteps coming down the hall. The door was locked, but she wouldn’t put it past her dad to break it down.
“Open this door!” He pounded on it hard, shaking the knob.
“Why would I do that?”
“Get out here!”
“I thought you wanted in here!” She almost wanted him to come in. She picked up her soda and imagined spilling it on him.
“Dammit Ellie! You never do anything in this house!”
“At least I have a job!” Even though she’d only been babysitting Gabrielle for a week, that was more than he’d done all year. “Maybe I’ll just stay with Amber! You and Mom wouldn’t care!”
“That woman’s crazy!” He pounded on the door again, and in that moment, she did want it to open. Her mind cleared of all except one word: “Unlock.”
The door clicked, and flew open. Her dad stumbled forward, barely managing to stay on his feet. “What the hell?”
Ellie laughed, unable to conceal her surprise and delight.
He shook himself, and raised his voice, “Turn that down or I’ll break your radio!”
“Will you now?” Ellie wondered how far she could take this. First she flung her soda above his head, imagining it staying perfectly in place, pouring the liquid over him. She let out another surprised laugh as it happened exactly as she’d imagined, the empty can knocking him on the head before falling to the floor.
“Aaaaarrrrrgh!” He was either too angry or too drunk to notice anything unusual had happened. “Clean this up now!”
“Why?” she said. “You say all the time this isn’t my house. You clean it up. Your house, your mess.”
“And turn that down!” He lunged toward her radio, but Ellie moved first. The radio was just out of her reach, but did what she wanted it to. It leapt off her dresser, flew across the room, and hit him hard in the face. He slipped in the puddle of soda and fell backward, landing on his back with a loud thud.
Ellie grabbed her bag, and walked to the doorway where he lay. “I’m not usually a violent person,” she said, “but you pushed me just a little too far.” She stepped around him, and slammed the door behind her, giving him a good knock on the head with it.
As she left the house, her mother’s car pulled up in the driveway. Ellie looked at her only once, and kept walking.
Her mother got out of the car. “Ellie! What are you doing?”
“Mom, do not even talk to me,” she said, without turning around.
“You’re going to see that boy aren’t you?”
“What do you care?” She paused, and turned back again. “Oh, there’s a bit of a mess in there, so, sorry about that, but I’m done with you people.”
I forgot we were going shopping today. I think Mom might have forgotten too, but Megan and Betty just reminded her. And by “reminded” I mean whined and begged until she gave in. I can already tell today is going to be fun…
Oh well, I’ll shop by myself. I wish it didn’t always have to be this way. You’re not supposed to want to run from your family, right? I would say it’s just a phase, but it’s always been like this.
Her mother’s voice called from the hall, “Hurry up, Savannah!”
“I’ve been ready for the past ten minutes!” Megan said.
Savannah sighed, hid her journal, and went into the living room, where her mother was waiting with Megan and Betty. Megan was the oldest of her siblings, at sixteen. Betty was a year younger than Megan, and copied her every move. Savannah shared a room with the pair of them. Most of the time they ignored her, but Savannah didn’t mind. She had nothing in common with either of them.
Belinda Kali, her mother, was still yelling as she gathered the children from all corners of the house. Getting everyone ready was always an ordeal.
Tom and Jason came running into the hall, colliding into Megan and Betty. Savannah suppressed a giggle as her brothers knocked the girls onto the couch and started climbing on them. Tom and Jason were six-year-old twins, and they were the troublemakers in the family.
“Get off! Get off! You’re messing up my hair!”
“Boys! Leave them alone!”
“Why aren’t we going to the park today, Mom?” Tom asked.
“We’ll go tomorrow, okay?”
“But I wanna go now!” they said together.
Now. Everything always had to happen now. Savannah had written in her journal that if they had the chance, her siblings would live their whole lives in a single moment.
The family piled into the car. Ashley was the last one inside. She was the youngest in the family, at five. Unfortunately for Savannah, Ashley sat next to her, chattering away the whole time about all the things she wanted at the mall.
“…And we’ll go to the candy store, right Mom? Mom? Mooom!”
Savannah tuned her out. She had learned to tune out almost everything. Ashley wasn’t the only one who talked nonstop. Everyone in the Kali family had a loud personality except for Savannah. Savannah had always known she was different. She was thinner than the rest of them, and the only one who was left-handed. Her hair was light brown, and very straight. Her mother’s hair was always frazzled, but Belinda Kali was a frazzled woman in general. Savannah had wondered if she was adopted, but instead came to the conclusion that she had inherited her father’s traits. She hardly remembered him, having only known him for the first few years of her life. Even then he hadn’t been around much. He had left a few years ago, and no one talked about him anymore. She thought about him abandoning his family, and hoped she wasn’t too much like him. But sometimes she found it easy to forgive him, for she often imagined running from this family as well.
At the mall, they split up. Betty took Jason, Megan took Tom, and Savannah got stuck with Ashley and her mother. Annoyed, she followed them into a girl’s clothing store, but soon realized her mother could barely glance at her, with Ashley demanding her full attention. Ashley pulled Belinda over to the dresses, and Savannah escaped to go to the store next door. On her way in, she almost bumped into a tall boy who was leaving.
“Excuse me,” she said. “Sorry.”
He stared at her for a moment, turned around, hesitated, spun back toward her and opened his mouth to speak, but then turned again and walked away. Savannah frowned, wondering what was up with him, but brushed it off quickly enough. This wasn’t the first time something like that had happened to her.
She browsed through the summer shoes, but didn’t find anything she liked. She soon disappeared into daydreams, hardly paying attention to the clothes and shoes her sisters were so obsessed with.
After an hour or so, it was time to meet up again, and possibly leave. Megan came back with Tom, Betty came back with Jason, and an argument started immediately. Megan had bought several tops and short skirts Belinda didn’t agree with.
“But I got things for Tom like I was supposed to, why not get some stuff for myself?”
“You’re too young to be dressing like that!” Belinda said.
“They look gross on old people!” Megan said. “I should be able to wear them while I’m still young!”
“They look gross on anyone! We’re returning these, and going home.”
“But Mooooom!” This time it was Ashley. “We’re supposed to go to the candy store!”
“Sorry honey, but we won’t have time.”
That only made things worse. Ashley threw a fit, screaming and crying, and Belinda had to drag her through the mall while they returned Megan’s clothes.
“Well, now we’ll just have to come back later,” Megan said. “Because I have nothing to wear.”
More arguing ensued. Savannah zoned out, taking several deep breaths to keep herself from losing her temper with all of them. She’d pictured the scene many times: quiet Savannah finally loses it. Ideally, they would all be so shocked by the outburst they would listen to everything she said.
She turned away from them for a moment. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a small shoe store she hadn’t noticed before. She calmed herself once more, preparing to ask Belinda if they could stop there. An odd feeling came over her, an unfamiliar tranquility she had never been able to experience in the presence of her family. She felt like she was reaching a part of her that had been hidden all her life. A hole was opening in the wall of the store, a window no one else seemed to notice. She saw inside, where there were many different sandals in many different sizes. Shocked, Savannah stopped. The hole closed.
“Savannah!” Belinda said. “What are you looking at? We need to go now!”
“Mom, can we stop in there? I still need shoes, and they have sandals.”
“Alright,” she sighed, “but quickly.”
“You don’t know if they have sandals,” Megan said. “You can’t see in!”
“Yes I can,” Savannah said.
“Not all the way in, crazy.”
Oddly enough, Savannah wasn’t too surprised she could. In fact it was her lack of surprise she found alarming. Something so strange shouldn’t feel so normal, so right.
They entered the store, but didn’t see sandals anywhere.
“They don’t have them,” Belinda said. “Let’s go.”
“Let’s just check in the back,” Savannah said.
She was almost surprised when she found what she had seen. They bought a pair of bright yellow sandals Savannah liked, but Betty hated.
“You have no sense of style,” she said. “Those are ugly.”
Savannah barely heard her, trapped in a daydream. As they left the mall, she felt like she was floating a few inches off the ground. The happiness stayed with her even in the crowded car, with her siblings blathering away. When they arrived home, she floated into her room and onto her bed. Megan and Betty were too busy fighting with Belinda to come in anytime soon. She took out her journal and began writing:
Shopping today was... not quite what I expected. Well, it was at first. Megan, Betty and Ashley never shut up. Tom and Jason are annoying too, but also kind of funny. It’d be fun to have a twin. Those two are partners in crime, and fortunately for me the crimes are usually against Megan and Betty.
Anyway, when we were leaving, I looked at the wall of a shoe store and saw right through it! I’ve always considered myself a bit of an oddity, but that was just insane. Maybe I’ve finally lost it. Or maybe whatever’s so special about me is about to show itself. I’d like to think it’s something special. I know it’s childish, but it’s better than thinking I’m losing my mind.
There was also this weird boy who kept doing double takes at me. Maybe it was just my imagination, but this stuff keeps happening, and I can’t be imagining all of it (I hope).
At least we’re going to the park tomorrow. That should be fun.
Savannah flopped back on her bed, staring up at the ceiling, willing it to open. She took a deep breath, trying to block out the noise from the other room. A tiny hole began to open, and she could see the sky. A rush of excitement went through her, and with the excitement, the hole closed. Savannah picked up her journal again, and flipped to the page labeled “Crazy things I can’t explain.” Next to the entry about her vision of a floating white light in the middle of a dark street, she wrote, “I can see through walls.”
When Ellie and Savannah meet...
"If you love magic and quests, excellent writing and strong female characters then this is the book for you." --Amazon reviewer
"A sweet and ultimately uplifting tale about twins girls, Ellie and Savannah, who enter an alternative world and discover their destiny." --Amazon reviewer
"Rose Channing delivers a captivating fantasy novel filled with magic, friendship and discovery." --Hungry Monster Book Review
"A fun, family-friendly read." --Amazon reviewer
"The characters are nicely formed; I felt as if I could imagine (if I wanted to) what sort of choices each would make for their afternoon tea." --Amazon reviewer