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Do you believe in the magic of stories?

I’m not asking if you believe in magic wands, pixie dust, or bunny holes that can transport you to Wonderland. What I’m asking is do you believe in the magic of stories themselves? I’m not asking if you believe in the magic of Harry Potter, Tinkerbell, and the White Rabbit. What I’m asking is if you believe in the magic of J.K. Rowling, James M. Barrie, Lewis Carroll.

I believe in that kind of magic. Stories, after all, have transported me to other worlds. They’ve allowed me the opportunity to experience lives different from my own. They’ve let me see things from different points of view. And they made me care about, cry for, laugh with, and fall in love with people I could not have met any other way. Stories have moved me and made me think. They’ve made me see things about my own life and my own world that I’ve never noticed before.
Detail Cover

Detail from the cover of Toren the Teller’s Flight, book two of Toren the Teller’s Tale


What’s that if not magic?

In my new book, Toren the Teller’s Tale, the main character becomes an apprentice to a wizard who wants her to learn the greatest magic of their world:

My master leaned in close again and began to teach me my first true lesson. “When you think of magic, you think of wizards and witches. You might also think of dragons. But that is only half of what magic is. Magic is everywhere to some degree.”

He pointed at the wares of the vendors around us. “There is magic in the artistry that made that cloth over there: magic in the dyes that created the colors, the fingers that worked the loom. There is magic in those candles and in the glass. All of this magic can be wielded by one who holds the power. You have a great deal of power already in you, but you must learn how to use it.

“It isn’t enough to learn spells and how to make potions. You must learn how to read the magic in everything. You must learn to tell the story of the dye and the fingers, the candle, and the glass. The ultimate magic is the story that doesn’t merely describe the thing, but is the thing. If you read something until you know it completely–every bit of its magic, every part of its story–then you will be able to retell that story in a single, unspoken word called a Shemet. Tell its Shemet, and it is yours not only to shape and bend but also to create from nothing.

Toren BC“This ultimate power became lost when the magic of our world was shattered about eight hundred years ago. It is written that in the Age of Magic the power of wizards and witches was so great they shined as brightly as the sun. Today we are no more than scarcely glowing embers.” Here he paused and looked deeply into my eyes. The expression on his face was earnest. “I believe, however, the old magic can, and must, rise again. The evil magic in our world–that devastating wind–is gathering its strength too, and we must take action to bring it down.”

He took the amulet on the chain around my neck, pressed it into my palm, and folded my fingers around it. “We wizards and witches brandish magic. But we have become so obsessed with its symbols–the potions and the spells–that we have forgotten what the source of our highest power is: the reading and retelling of the Shemet.  I need you to learn all the magic there is to learn. To do that you must learn everything. Above all, you must learn from those who are closest to the source of this magic, those who hold the power of the telling.”

My master stepped aside and gestured toward the storyteller, who had now finished his performance. First came a brief silence. Then sighs of pleasure, cheers, and clapping followed, and the audience dispersed. Some wiped away tears, while others chatted. All were smiling. My master took me by the arm and led me to the man . . .


I believe it’s the greatest magic of our world too.

What about you? Have you ever felt the magic of the storyteller?



Synopsis: Have you ever been swept away by a story? If you have, you know the magic of the storyteller–and you know that magic is real. That is seventeen-year-old Toren’s magic . . . but is she brave enough to accept the power that lies within her?

When Toren returns home, her little sister, Noa, is full of questions. Noa demands to know why Toren wakes only at night; what causes her almost constant pain; and above all, why, after completing her apprenticeship, she has decided not to become a wizard.  To answer, Toren weaves a tale about a journey that leads her to discover the greatest source of magic in her world–herself.  It is a revelation that comes  at a high price.  Through her darkest years, Toren finds solace and strength in the stories she tells.  But her greatest tale is not yet finished.  Together with Noa, she sets out on a new adventure. And in the end, she must choose: will she continue to cling to her dream of an ordinary life, or will she dare to let her own magic shine?

TOREN: THE TELLER’S TALE is more than an inspirational fantasy.  It is a philosophical tale about the enchantment of literature, because in Toren’s parallel world there is no greater power than the magic of storytelling.

TOREN: THE TELLER’S TALE is intended to be the first book in the Toren the Teller series.



SA PictureAbout The Author:

Shevi Arnold started telling stories when she was just a kid looking for a way to pass the time on the long, boring ride to school. Not long after that, she started telling herself her own stories–letting them play through her mind, like favorite TV shows–as she was about to fall asleep or whenever she was bored.

One night when she was seventeen, she encountered Toren for the very first time. The magical storyteller left quite an impression. But Shevi didn’t have the time to write Toren’s story down. She had degrees to earn in college, and when she was through with that, she had her work in newspapers and magazines, her marriage, and her family to keep her busy.

Then in 2001 Shevi returned to the USA in search of a better education for her autistic son, and she had to leave her job and  her old life behind. She had only ever worked as a writer and an illustrator, and she couldn’t work full-time for newspapers or magazines anymore. What was she going to? She sat down and began to write Toren the Teller’s Tale.

Since then Shevi has written six other novels for kids and young adults, but after thirty years simmering in her mind and countless edits, she considers this novel her greatest masterpiece.



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