Michael W. Garza's The Last Shadow Gate will be published by NeverHaven Press in March 2017.
Information about Michael W. Garza:
Michael W. Garza often finds himself wondering where his inspiration will come from next and in what form his imagination will bring it to life. The outcomes regularly surprise him and it's always his ambition to amaze those curious enough to follow him and take in those results. He hopes that everyone will find something that frightens, surprises, or simply astonishes them.
Information The Last Shadow Gate:
Summer vacation was never supposed to be like this.
It was bad enough Naomi had to be shipped off to her dad's home for the summer and deal with her half-brother Gavin, but when the siblings are forced to spend their break with their great-grandmother in upstate New York, everything changes. An investigation into the strange disappearance of their great-grandfather forces them to retrace his footsteps. They discover a gateway between worlds and encounter extraordinary creatures in a land where the people are desperate to escape the coming of a shade lord. To survive their adventure, Naomi and Gavin must settle their differences and find the elusive shadow gate that will take them home again.
A REVIEW OF MICHAEL W. GARZA'S THE LAST SHADOW GATE
Do you remember when you were young and began to read an exciting adventure or fantasy novel that you couldn't put down, because you had to find out what happens at the end? Do you remember saying to yourself "just one more page...", but found yourself hopelessly hooked by the story and unable to put it down despite the hour getting late? If you do, you will be pleased to read Michael W. Garza's The Last Shadow Gate, because it will remind you of your childhood's addictive stories.
Michael W. Garza's The Last Shadow Gate is the first novel in the The Last Shadow Gate Chronicles (it begins a story that will continue in A Veil of Shadows and The Shadow of War). It's middle-grade/YA fantasy fiction at its best and most addictive, because it's an exciting and magical tale that has the power to charm readers of all ages. Although it's a modern novel, it has an old-fashioned and captivating feel to it that is impossible to resist.
I can honestly say that The Last Shadow Gate is one of the most pleasant reading experiences I've had during the recent years when it comes to reading middle-grade/YA fiction. When I began to read it, I found myself devouring it in one sitting, because I couldn't stop reading it. The story was written so lovingly that it felt like a homage to classic fantasy adventures about children who find themselves in other worlds.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
Twelve-year-old Gavin Walker and his fifteen-year-old half-sister Naomi Walker are shipped off to spend the whole summer at their great-grandmother's house, which is on the outskirts of Albany, New York, in the town of Gum Springs. They are not very keen on spending the summer together, but they have to obey their father, so they travel to upstate New York. During the trip to Gum Springs their father tells them that Papa Walker came there from England to search for doorways. One day Papa Walker disappeared and was never found... When they reach Mama Walker's house, Mama Walker tells them over dinner that the search for the doorways, the Shadow Gates, has been a part of their family for a long time... When Gavin and Naomi have settled themselves into living with Mama Walker, they become interested in Papa Walker's disappearance and begin to investigate what happened to him. During their investigations they discover a Shadow Gate, which is a gateway between worlds, and find themselves in another world...
This is the beginning of an exciting and interesting fantasy adventure in which Gavin and Naomi have to find a way to get back to their own world.
The characterisation works well, because the half-siblings Naomi and Gavin are well-created and realistic characters. The author writes fluently about how they feel about spending the summer together, how they tolerate each other and how they become interested in Papa Walker's mysterious disappearance. In my opinion, the author writes fluently about how Naomi feels about her relationship with her father. Because they live far away from each other, her father has done his best to maintain a close relationship. When she was young, she cherished their relationship, but her needs have changed over the years.
The minor characters are also interesting, especially the characters who live on the other side of the Shadow Gate. It was interesting to read about them and what they looked like, because some of them were fascinatingly different from humans.
Gavin and Naomi's investigations reminded me slightly of Enid Blyton's classic novels in which the characters solved various mysteries and strange cases. Because I've always loved Enid Blyton's stories, I found myself instantly drawn to the protagonists' quest to find out what happened to Papa Walker. It was fun to read about what they found out and how they explored the town's history.
Worldbuilding is intriguing, because Michael W. Garza has created a vast fantasy world with its owns customs, cultures and conflicts. There are many fascinating sights in his fantasy world, because he - amongst other things - writes about the Arachnid who are half-spider. It's great that the author doesn't reveal everything at once, but delivers new details about the world at regular intervals. I also want to mention that one of the things why I like the worldbuilding is that the author has created a world that has a satisfying amount of darkness in it. It's also great that everything is not black and white in his fantasy world. The terrifying Shade Lords add an interesting touch of menace to the world, because they're consumed by a terrible hate and a lust for power.
It's nice that the author has a good sense of humour. He has spiced the story with a few well-placed humorous scenes that will delight readers. He also easily evokes a sense of danger and threat, because the residents of the other world fear the Shade Lords and their reign of darkness.
This novel has many fascinating scenes. For example, the trip to the Isle of Marrid to seek the wisdom of the Lady of the Whispering Waves begins in an interesting way as Gavin and Naomi see what a Marridian looks like, because they're almost like something out of Lovecraftian tales. The scene in which the protagonists meet the Arachnid is also fascinating, because they gradually begin to realise that they're in a totally different kind of a world than Earth.
One of the most important things why I love this novel and recommend it to others is that the author has filled it with old-fashioned charm. I personally think that one can never find too much old-fashioned charm in middle-grade fantasy fiction, because many modern authors avoid writing such stories. This novel has charming innocence that is simply irresistible to those who love and adore classic fantasy adventures in the vein of C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising, because the author has done his best to write a novel that has a classic feel to it.
Michael W. Garza has done a good job at writing the story, because he pulls all the right strings to make his readers fascinated by what's going on. Because I had read previously his zombie novels I was aware of the fact that he can write good and interesting fiction, but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and its entertainment values. I never would've guessed that he can write middle-grade/YA fiction so well.
I like the author's writing style, because he keeps things in motion and doesn't get stuck at any places. His swiftly flowing story is marked by clear sentences and fluent descriptions about various characters and places. I think that younger readers will enjoy reading his prose, because it is easy to like and fast to read.
I give this novel full five stars on the scale from one to five stars, because the fast-paced story and its old-fashioned charm impressed me. I look forward to reading the sequels, because this novel was an excellent start to The Shadow Gate Chronicles and left me wanting more.
Michael W. Garza's The Last Shadow Gate is a fascinating fantasy adventure for both younger and older readers. I think that many readers will devour this novel in one sitting and yearn for more. Please, don't miss out on this wonderful novel, because it deserves to be read (I sincerely hope that readers will discover this novel and its charm).
Excellent fantasy adventure for readers of all ages!