Print Length: 264 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: NeverHaven Press; First edition
Cover Reveal: December 9, 2016
Pre-Order Date: December 9, 2016
Publication Date: March 3, 2017
ISBN-13 (Paper Back): 978-0997900415
ISBN-13 (eBook): 978-0997900408
BISAC: Juvenile Fiction / Fantasy & Magic
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 greatgrandmother
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.
THE SHADOW GATE CHRONICLES:
Book 1: The Last Shadow Gate
Book 2: A Veil of Shadows (Coming 2017)
Book 3: The Shadow of War (Coming 2018)
Praise for THE LAST SHADOW GATE:
“If this book had been around when I was a kid, I’d have held it right up there with The Chronicles of
Narnia and Lord of the Rings.”
– Sunshine Somerville, Author of THE KOTA SERIES
“You won’t want to miss out on the thrilling yet perilous world beyond the shadow gates!”
– J. Cornell Michel, Author of JORDAN’S BRAINS
*If you love fast-paced, YA Fantasy, THE LAST SHADOW GATE is the book for you.*
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 everyone
will find something that frightens, surprises, or
simply astonishes them.
Contact & Social Media Information:
Where did the idea for The Last Shadow Gate come from?
This book was in the draft phase for over a decade. I based the characters on my kids
and as they grew and developed their own personalities I allowed the characters in the
book to do the same. It’s been a labor of love and seeing it finally in print has been a
wonderful experience. Every time I read through it I see my daughter and son on every
Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas for stories come from the strangest places. I never sit down and say ‘let’s write a
book’ there’s usually a spark that comes out of nowhere. It’s the littlest things that lead
to the big ideas for me. I’m never in a hurry when it comes to writing so I’ll sit on
something for quite a while and let it build until I can see an entire adventure from
beginning to end. In that way, by the time I sit down to write I usually know exactly
where I’m going.
How do you find the time to write?
As a father of three, time is always a challenge. Writing is a hobby for me. It’s
something I’m passionate about but my focus is usually needed elsewhere. A majority
of my writing is done in the quiet of a late night when everyone else is in bed. I take my
shots whenever I can get them. I’ve been known to disappear for a short time here and
there if I see an opening for a writing opportunity but a majority of the good stuff I get
down on paper is done long after everyone else is snoring.
The Last Shadow Gate
Gavin Walker sat in a dining room chair at the head of the table. His dirty-blond bangs were pushed
to one side revealing a wide-eyed expression. His mouth hung open, and he was at a loss for words,
which was something that didn’t happen often in the twelve-year-old’s daily life.
“The whole summer?”
His father stood at the opposite end of the table resting his hands on the back of a chair. The
similarities between father and son were unmistakable. Mr. Walker’s expression was calm, unlike his
son’s overreaction. Gavin could see his father wasn’t going to back down, so he resorted to
“The whole summer?”
Mr. Walker didn’t budge.
“Don’t be so dramatic.”
“It won’t kill you,” Mr. Walker said. “You haven’t seen Mama Walker in over two years and she’s not
getting any younger.” His face was stern. “Look, she’s nearly eighty-five and I’m not sure how many
more opportunities the two of you will have to spend time with her.”
Mama Walker was Gavin’s great-grandmother. She lived alone on the outskirts of Albany, New York,
in the town of Gum Springs. To a twelve-year-old boy from Southern California, Gum Springs was on
the far side of the moon. Gavin didn’t know Mama Walker very well.
“But she’s crazy, Dad,” he said. “You said so yourself.”
Mr. Walker’s brow wrinkled.
“I don’t think she’s crazy. She’s lonely since Papa went away and…”
He went on, but Gavin stopped listening. He crossed his arms and sulked. He wanted to protest, but
he already knew his father wasn’t going to give in. He focused on something else he’d heard.
“What do you mean by the two of you?”
Mr. Walker smiled and hesitated.
“Well,” he said, “that’s the rest of the story. I want you and your sister to spend the summer together
with Mama Walker.”
Gavin rolled his eyes. Naomi was his half-sister who lived in Florida with her mother. The two
siblings were forced to tolerate each other over summer vacations and an occasional holiday break.
She was older than Gavin by three years and reminded him of it every chance she could. “What
about football camp?”
He was playing dirty now.
“Already took care of it,” Mr. Walker said, and Gavin’s smile disappeared. “First day of camp is at the
end of August, and it just so happens that you’ll get back with plenty of time.”
“You already bought the ticket?” Gavin asked as his voice filled with dread.
“Yep,” Mr. Walker said, “school’s out next Friday, and you and I fly out on Saturday.”
“I’m flying with you. We’ll meet Naomi in Albany then I’m going to stay a few days and fly back.”
“Very brave of you,” Gavin said.
Mr. Walker got up, came around the table, and took a seat next to his son. He put his hand on
Gavin’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “I know I’m asking a lot, but come on, Gavin, do this for
me,” he said. “Your mother and I have talked about this for a while. Mama Walker has been distant
from the family for a long time. This will be good for her and good for the both of you kids too.” He let
go and stood up. “You know, you might even have a good time.”
Gavin doubted that very much.
Destin, Florida is a popular vacation destination. It’s known for white, sandy beaches, and clear, blue
water. That beauty is a part of life for the people who live in Destin and across the bridge in the city
of Fort Walton Beach. Naomi Walker happened to be one of those lucky people.
She sat on the school bus staring out at the clear, blue water counting down the days until summer.
The ninth grade was particularly difficult for Naomi. She calculated she’d spent more days grounded
during this year than all of the years before it combined. She wasn’t a bad student, quite the
opposite, she enjoyed most of her classes.
She’d always had an interest in science and history, but this year she spent more time interested in
gossip and boys than any academic pursuit. Naomi’s mother was forgiving for the most part. She
and her step-father were willing to give Naomi some slack as she dealt with becoming a young
woman. Her father was a different story altogether.
Naomi knew her father lived in California, but sometimes she thought he was somewhere closer to
Mars. Her parents divorced when she was young, but Mr. Walker did everything in his power to keep
a close relationship. Naomi cherished that bond as a little girl; however, her needs had changed over
the past few years. In a short time she’d be shipped off to California while all her friends would be
having the time of their lives.
She decided looking at the beach was only making matters worse and spun around to stare at the
back of the seat in front of her. Chloe, her little sister, sat next to her. All of Chloe’s attention was
focused on the screen of a hot pink, handheld game. Naomi pulled the game from her hand for no
good reason, and the two fought over it for the rest of the ride home.
The walk from the bus stop to the front door felt longer than usual. Naomi passed the time by
snatching her hand away from Chloe as the little girl tried to hold on. At fifteen, Naomi was at a
peculiar crossroads in her life where adulthood and individualism was a goal and childhood just plain
stunk. To Chloe, only seven, holding hands was still all the rage.
“Mom, we’re home.”
Naomi threw her backpack on the sofa and walked to the kitchen with Chloe close on her heels.
“What about peanut butter?” Chloe asked.
“What about no,” Naomi said.
Chloe stuck her tongue out. “Fine then,” she said, “I’ll make one myself.”
The little girl pulled a chair in from the dining room as Naomi poked through the cabinets and settled
on a half-finished bag of chips. Naomi slumped down on the couch, leaving Chloe to make a mess in
the kitchen. She began a never-ending search for something to watch on TV with the chips in her lap
and the television remote secured. The sliding door in the rear of the house opened and closed,
announcing their mother’s arrival.
“We’re home, Mom,” she said.
“Just finishing up the laundry.”
Naomi was convinced her mother did the laundry for the entire block.
“What in the world?”
Naomi grinned. She knew her mom’s outburst had something to do with the mess Chloe was making
in the kitchen. A moment later her mother made it into the living room. Her hair was frazzled and her
eyes were focused in a disapproving glare.
“What?” Naomi asked.
“You could have helped her.”
“She’s not a baby, you know.”
Her mother sat down on the love seat. “I want you to turn that off, Naomi. We need to talk about
Naomi didn’t like the tone her mother took. This was the tone she used when delivering bad news. It
was that very same tone she’d used to tell her and Chloe their beloved cat, Tinker, was in heaven.
Naomi eyed her mother closely as she hit the mute button on the remote control.
“Your father and I have had a long talk about your summer vacation,” her mother said. Naomi pulled
a handful of chips out of the bag and ate through them in an unnecessarily loud manner. “And…” her
mother’s voice rose to match the chip-chomping, “I believe we’ve come to an agreement.”
“I can stay here for the summer?” Naomi asked.
Naomi sank back into the couch.
“Your father wants you and Gavin to spend the summer together.”
“What’s so different about that?” Naomi asked. “I have to put up with him every summer.”
“Yes, but—” Her mother was interrupted by a ring. She pulled the phone out of her back pocket,
looked at the number, and smiled. “I’ll let him explain.”
Naomi took the phone from her mother and answered it. She recognized her father’s voice at once.
“Hey, Dad.” She saw her mother smiling and noted it was the smile you give when you feel sorry for
something. Naomi’s face scrunched as Mr. Walker explained what awaited her on summer vacation.
“But,” she cut in.
Mr. Walker pushed on.
Mr. Walker continued to talk.
Her father didn’t let up.
Naomi popped up off the couch.
“But, Dad, that old lady’s crazy.”
Gavin burst out of the airplane and onto the walkway connecting to the Albany International Airport.
The flight was late, and he’d been caged about as long as he could stand it. He dashed between the
departing passengers, clipping a bag here and there. He’d tripped three times before he reached the
He heard his father calling for him and glanced back but couldn’t see him through the sea of people.
Gavin poured out into the terminal as quickly as he’d rushed the airplane door. The lady standing at
the desk beside the door gave him a nasty glance which he promptly ignored.
He heard his name again, but this time from in front. The high pitched call was not his father. A look
to his right revealed his sister standing by a front row of chairs in the departure area. Her arms were
crossed, but at least she was smiling.
“Wow, you got taller,” he said and then reached out and threw his arms around her.
“It’s only been a few months.” She returned the hug quickly but then pushed him away. “Where’s
“Probably stuck behind everyone.” Gavin examined his sister more closely. “Hey, you cut your hair.”
She pushed her golden bangs away from her eyes and nodded. “Yep.”
Gavin pulled his backpack off and tossed it onto one of the seats. He unzipped it and did a quick
“I hope you brought enough to keep yourself entertained,” Naomi said, keeping her eyes trained on
the terminal door, “’cause it’s going to be a long summer.”
Gavin didn’t respond. He was still making sure his laptop and all its pieces were accounted for. He
breathed a sigh of relief, discovering all was well. “Don’t be a drag,” he said. “We have to stay with
Mama Walker whether we like it or not, so we might as well make the best of it.”
Naomi raised a brow and focused back on him.
“Boy, Dad sure has gotten to you.”
“Hey, you guys.”
Naomi’s face lit up with a joyful smile. “Daddy,” she said and ran over to him.
“There’s my baby.” Mr. Walker wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. He kissed her on
the forehead and for a moment refused to let her go. “I think you’ve grown,” he said, finally releasing
“You always say that.”
They gathered their things and headed for the baggage area. A cool wind rose up the escalator to
greet them as they passed through the security checkpoint. The baggage claim was long and
narrow. An endless sea of people stared up at scrolling flight numbers and their associated baggage
claim locations. Mr. Walker joined in with the other flight number watchers, and the children looked
on with amusement.
The bags came quickly, and Mr. Walker loaded everything up on a cart. A moment later they found
themselves in a four-story parking structure searching for spot B4-39 where the rental car was
waiting. The car was found and packed and they’d driven away from the airport before any real
“Dad, are you serious?” Naomi asked, crossing her arms. She was in the front passenger seat.
Gavin’s head snapped up from the back. “How could you agree to this?”
The car swerved as Mr. Walker jerked in response to the sudden outburst. “What’s the matter with
you? I’m driving here.”
“The entire summer,” Naomi said. She tightened her arms and put on a sour face. “I could’ve spent
the summer at the beach. Sara’s mom invited me to come with them to their beach house and of
course I had to say no.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Mr. Walker asked. “You would have been in California
“Yeah, that’s right…” She cut herself off mid-sentence.
“So, you didn’t want to come out at all?”
“I can’t believe you want us to spend our entire summer vacation out here,” she countered.
Gavin chuckled under his breath as she pointed randomly out the window.
“We’ve been through this, sweetheart.”
“Yeah, sweetheart,” Gavin said from the backseat.
“Shut up,” Naomi said.
“Hey, hey, hey.” Mr. Walker held a hand up. “Enough. You two are going to have to get along.” He
looked from Naomi’s face to Gavin’s in the rearview mirror. “Well, you’re going to at least have to
tolerate one another. I was hoping that maybe you two would come to know each other in a different
way after all this.”
“I’m all for it, Dad,” Gavin said.
“Kiss up,” Naomi countered.
“That’s starting off well,” Mr. Walker said under his breath.
The car went silent and stayed that way until Gum Springs appeared on the mile signs on the side of
the freeway. Gavin picked up on it and realized their destination was drawing closer. He refocused
his attention on the most interesting part of the entire summer adventure.
“So, what does Mama Walker really think happened to Papa Walker?” The sudden break in silence
made the question sound louder than it really was. Mr. Walker’s eyes focused in on him in the mirror.
“What?” Gavin asked. “We’re going to be living with her. Don’t you think it might come up?”
Naomi’s expression read plainly, he’s right you know.
Mr. Walker took a deep breath. “Well, there’s not much time left before we reach Gum Springs so, if
we’re going to get into this, it might as well be now.”
He clammed up for a few moments, and Gavin slid forward on his seat until the seatbelt wouldn’t let
him move any farther.
“Our family history has a long line of explorers in it, supposedly dating back hundreds of years,” Mr.
Walker said. “This is on your great grandfather’s side of the family. Our family line runs through
several fairly well-known members of society. Members of royal courts, you name it and there’s a
family story about it.”
Gavin looked over and smiled at his sister. She was listening so intently that her mouth was open.
“Now to be honest,” Mr. Walker continued, “I don’t know how true this stuff is. These stories were
passed down to my father and from him to me. I never had much interest in it. I was always focused
more on sports and—”
“Yeah, yeah, Dad,” Gavin said, “you were talking about the family history.”
“Oh yeah,” Mr. Walker said. “Papa Walker was a big believer in family history. If my memory serves
me well, his main focus was on a tale about doorways.” He shook his head. “I’m not sure of the
particulars, but he believed some of these doorways led to great secrets or something like that. As
Mama Walker will eventually tell you, I’m sure…” He rolled his eyes. “Papa Walker brought the
family over from England in search of those doors.”
“We’re from England?” Naomi asked.
“Yep, some small town north of London, I think.”
“How come I’ve never heard this before?” Gavin asked but didn’t give his father a chance to answer.
“So, did he ever find the doors?”
“That’s where this all gets a little on the strange side,” Mr. Walker said. “Papa Walker spent the
better part of his life researching and looking for the doors. He bought that house in Gum Springs
because his studies led him to believe there was a doorway on the property.”
“And he found it, didn’t he?” Gavin asked.
“Mama Walker thinks he did.”
“Wait a minute,” Naomi’s look hardened, “are you telling me Mama Walker thinks he found one of
these doors, went in and didn’t come back out?”
Everyone stayed quiet and let the last admission hang in the air. Naomi shrugged and turned back
toward the side window. Gavin, however, couldn’t let the conversation go.
“But he did die right?” Gavin asked, after a long pause.
“Gavin,” Naomi and Mr. Walker said in unison.
“What? He did right?”
“Yes but…” Mr. Walker said.
“There’s a but?” Gavin smiled. He was hoping there would be a but.
“You guys are too young to remember it, and I doubt anyone has ever brought it up,” Mr. Walker
said. “But they never found Papa Walker.”
“Are you serious?” Naomi asked, obviously far more into the conversation than she was letting on.
“He was old you guys,” Mr. Walker said. “He’d wandered off from the house and was missing for
weeks. The local police put on a full search, and they never found him.”
“That’s so cool,” Gavin said. “So, these door things might be real.”
“Come on, Gavin.” Mr. Walker frowned. “You’ve never been out here to the Walker house. It’s
surrounded by miles of forest. He probably fell or got hurt and couldn’t get back. It’s sad really.”
Mr. Walker’s refusal to go on with the story brought the conversation to an abrupt end. Soon after,
the car drove past a Welcome to Gum Springs sign and the open fields were replaced with a wide
road lined with old buildings. The children saw a drugstore, gas station, and an auto parts
warehouse, but as far as they could see, there wasn’t a mall to speak of. It was only a few moments
before the open fields returned.
They turned off the highway onto a small dirt road. A lonely wooden mailbox was the only indicator
that someone might live nearby. Gavin scanned from one side of the road to the other in search of
what awaited them. The day was overcast and the dark clouds didn’t help the first impression of the
Walker house. A patch of woods ran to the north and south behind the residence. Naomi’s
expression soured as the home at the end of the road rose up into full view.
The Walker house was an old colonial-style home. Several rows of windows on the face overlooked
the front yard. Two round peaks that resembled small towers rose from the front corners of the
structure. The exterior was a dull white with tattered patches showing its wear and tear, giving a hint
at its age.
A wide double door sat centered on the front of the house framed by two tall pillars which stood
away from the door by several feet. The result was a good-sized front porch. Gavin focused on the
front door as it opened, but his eyes couldn’t pierce the darkness beyond. Nor could he make out
details of the short, hunched figure standing in the open doorway.