Locked Within Trilogy
Paul Anthony Shortt
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Pages: 200 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.42
My Rating: 4.5
The supernatural realm and the mundane world have existed side by side since the dawn of time. Predators walk the streets, hidden by our own ignorance. Once, the city of New York was protected, but that was another age.
Now a creature emerges from the city’s past to kill again, with no one to hear the screams of its victims. The lost and the weak, crushed under the heels of the city’s supernatural masters, have given up hope.
But one man finds himself drawn to these deaths. Plagued by dreams of past lives, his obsession may cost him friends, loved ones, even his life. To stop this monster, he must unlock the strength he once had. He must remember the warrior he was, to become the hero he was born to be.
His name is Nathan Shepherd, and he remembers.
My Take On The Book:
The Great (Pros):
- Nathan Shepherd. Literally, the coolest HUMAN hero I’ve read to date. I can’t stress how much I enjoyed reading about someone normal for a change. Sure he had some pretty cool odd ball attributes but he was mortal and faulted and that to me was awesome! It’s not every day you get to read about a character that not only kicks ass but gets his ass kicked. He makes mistakes and that’s alright in the end because he doesn’t really mope on them but uses them as a learning experience and tries not to make those same mistakes over and over.
- Libby and Rolland. I loved these two from the moment they stepped foot on the page and each interaction after just made my love for them grow.
- Katherine O’Reilly. Badass chick who kicks ass and isn’t accompanied by your usual bitchy attitude while kicking ass.
- Cadence and Cynthia. Cynthia is hands down my favorite character is this book simply because of her loyalty. She is smart and sweet and loyal to a fault. Cadence on the other hand isn’t someone I would typically like but she was written in a way that made it possible to do so. She makes no real excuses for why she does what she does, she just does it. Sure she’ll explain it to you if she deems you worthy of such but other than that not really. I liked that she wasn’t all whiny and trying to make anybody like her.
- The Vampires. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good vamp romance book but one of the reasons I liked this book so much is because the author takes you back to a time where vampires and bad and they are scary. It was refreshing to say the least. I hated the vampires in this book, they were so evil and mean, but I loved that I hated them.
- The Setting. I’m not really a fan of books that take place in a big city like New York simply because they are usually overrated but once again this book blows that notion outta the water. I loved the vibrant city life and the blending of the supernatural world with this world. But mostly I loved how Mr. Shortt explains it all, in the span of a couple of sentences in one chapter he explains the way humans are oblivious to the world around them and why all without droning on and on and annoying the living day lights outta you.
- Michael Shepherd. Hands down, he’s gotta be the coolest dad around. His character though not prevalent throughout the story, is basically what molds Nathan into the man he is. He’s a strong and caring character and he’s exactly the support the main character needs.
- Lack of romance. It was refreshing to read a book that while it had some sort of couple aspects, the story did not dwell on those parts of the story. Paul Anthony Shortt made sure to focus on the important, the story of Nathan and what makes him who he is.
The Not So Great (Cons):
- Laura. I absolutely abhor Laura. Her character was the equivalent of nails on chalk board. I disliked her from her first appearance on page, not while he wistfully stares at her picture but the real deal, when she first speaks. It did not get better over time, she only served to piss me off more and more.
- Ben. Originally, I liked his character. He seemed like a cool dude and someone Nathan could depend on and for the most part he was. It was only towards the end of the story that his character started to grate on my nerves.
- The mysterious dude in the cloak. I can’t delve too deep into this topic because it would definitely give something away but I wish we could have learned a little more about him and what his role in everything was.
All in all, this was a very entertaining read. Nearly perfect really. Something I would definitely recommend to anybody that likes Urban Fantasy stories. So make sure you’ve gotten your copy because the sequel is sure to please.
Continue Reading for Silent Oath (Book Two) Review and Excerpt
Locked Within Trilogy
Paul Anthony Shortt
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: October 18, 2013
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Word Count: 80,000
Goodreads Rating: 4.00
My Rating: 4.00
Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the city’s supernatural masters. But it’s not enough. Because from the shadows of Nathan’s former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that could undo everything he has fought for.
Nathan’s only chance to uncover the memories of his previous existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena DeSantis. A woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he has loved.
Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future the city has.
My Take On The Book:
Mr. Shortt has done it again. I loved the way he let you see the other characters perspectives, he didn’t just follow Nathan. Refreshing to say the least. Honestly, he had me hooked from the first page. I loved just about every second of this read. You not only get to see how much Nathan has grown as a person and as the hero but you get a glimpse at every other character’s growth as well. And the new characters were completely welcome as were the twists.
The Great (Pros):
- The Characters. I loved them, seriously every last one of them. Yes even Laura! She’s still vile and Ben still makes my skin crawl but they were all perfectly executed.
- The Plot. The plot was spot on. I loved all the twists and unexpected turns. I felt overwhelmed but in a good way. I felt as if I were right there with them.
- Katherine O’Reilly. Yep that’s right she gets her own shout out in this review as well as the last. I loved her immensely. She makes another debut in this book via Nathan’s memories and man is she awesome. She just further proves my point about how human these characters are. Sure she could kick your ass from here to next Sunday and probably won’t break a sweat or a nail for that matter but she is faulted and completely real. Something heroines lack. And the author made sure you understood that in both her character and her successor Nathan.
- The revealing of the creepy mysterious cloak dude. Jessh did that leave me winded. Okay so I really can’t delve into this topic, like AT ALL. But I will say for a villain he’s pretty awesome. Definetly not someone I’d wanna mess with and his story was just too freaking awesome! There is still much to be discovered about his past lives and that of Nathan but yeah you guys are in for a surprise when you read this one.
- Elena. She is soooooo much like Katherine it’s ridiculous. Weird in a way since she’s basically the reincarnation of Katherine’s Malcom but I guess that’s what made them perfect. I loved her dynamic with every character and her own group. It helped with story progression so major kudos to the author.
- Keros and Varia. Maybe I’m just a sucker for romance but wow their story gives you chills. ::sigh:: one word ‘Love’
The Not So Great (Cons):
- Romance. The romance or lack thereof in this one is unnerving. You see through the story and the author’s writing that its supposed to be there but it just fell a tad flat and that in itself is why it dropped that .5 the previous book had. I know in book 1 I said I liked the lack of romance and I still stand true to that but in this book, the synopsis tells you he has a love interest being introduced, one from his past so you just expect a bit more. You also expect a bit more chemistry, no I’m not saying I expect them to strip and get down with the get down (well maybe just a little) but still the romance was lacking that spark.
- The Villains. While I loved the plot and I loved all the baddies that go with it… I’m ashamed to admit, I got a bit lost with all the bad guys and their evil plans and ulterior motives. It was too much for my romance deprived mind! I had to reread a couple of passages to wrap my head around everything.
All in all this book is a gem. Well the whole series is thus far. I can’t wait for the final book. I’m literally going to be left biting my nails (my nail lady will hate me and I’m sure she’ll charge me double) till it’s released. When it comes out, I’m gonna be on that like white on rice. I feel invested in the characters and their story which is definitely a good thing. So in my honest opinion Paul Anthony Shortt is one heck of a writer. So ahem, why are you still on my page reading this instead of buying these books and reading them!
CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT
Nathan Shepherd opened his hooded coat and quietly drew his sword from its sheath. Scanning the doorways and rooftops for movement, he ventured through the alley, dark puddles rippling under his boots.
Nathan watched the doorways and windows for movement. The creature Nathan was hunting, a vampire named Garth, had been too greedy. The smiling face of a young woman was burned into Nathan’s memory, and the story of how her body was found, what had been done to her, buried in the corner of a newspaper like she didn’t matter. Vampires didn’t have to kill their victims, they just liked to. Garth would pay.
Someone screamed. Nathan followed the sound to a back street and took cover, stealing a quick glance around the corner. He saw two figures running. The lead was a small, rail-thin boy; late teens as far as Nathan could make out. He had a good head start on the pale, bald man hurtling along behind him. Even so far away, Nathan could make out the feral eyes and hear the snarls. That’s him. He lowered his sword and waited.
First the skinny kid ran past. Nathan counted a beat and swung his arm out from around the corner, clotheslining Garth. The vampire hit the ground. The boy he was chasing looked back, then tripped, careening into a trashcan.
“Evening, Garth.” Nathan stepped over him. “Been looking for you.”
The vampire wasted no time on words. He twisted and kicked Nathan’s legs out from under him before leaping to his feet and running toward the boy. Nathan pulled a small throwing knife from a slot in his leather utility harness and flicked it at Garth. The knife lodged in Garth’s back. He turned and snarled. “You’re pissing me off.”
“Good,” Nathan got to his feet. “I was beginning to worry I’d never get good at this.”
Garth sprinted down the alleyway. Nathan swept his sword in a low arc, cutting across Garth’s stomach as he passed. The vampire’s speed threw him off balance, and he let his guard drop. Garth lashed out with black claws across Nathan’s arm. The coat’s armored lining protected him from serious injury, but Garth followed up with two rapid punches to his face.
Tasting blood, Nathan thrust his sword out, running Garth through. He took Garth off his feet with a kick to the knee. Holding Garth down with his foot, Nathan lifted his sword and brought it down on Garth’s neck. It was not a clean cut, but it was enough.
The body began to dry up and broke apart into dust while Nathan backed away, taking in deep breaths. Sloppy. Too many mistakes. If Nathan didn’t get those under control they’d get him killed eventually. At least his hands didn’t shake afterward anymore.
Nathan turned to the boy that Garth had been chasing, who was still lying on the ground.
“You . . . ” The boy stood slowly. “You’re him, aren’t you?”
Nathan nodded. “What’s your name?”
“Eric.” The boy clutched a gray courier bag to his chest like his life depended on it.
“Why was the vampire after you, Eric?”
“He wanted my bag. I’m in the trade.”
The trade. It meant the boy wasn’t just aware of the supernatural; he was an active part of the hidden world. Probably someone’s apprentice.
“Where’s home?” Nathan asked. “Close?”
Eric nodded, “My dad’s store is half a block from here. Baum’s Curiosity Shop.”
Eric began to go, but stopped and turned. “Thank you, sir.”
Nathan nodded a goodbye and closed his coat again before making his way out of the back streets.
Would my parents be proud of me? It wasn’t the first time Nathan Shepherd had wondered that over the last nine months. His mother, Louise, had taught him to look out for those in need. Strength isn’t in your fists, she used to say, it’s in the way people take care of each other. His father, Mike, was a firefighter. He’d spent his life saving people. While Nathan could recall any moment in his life with perfect accuracy, the image of his dad, tall and broad-shouldered, walking out the door in his uniform, held a special place in his heart. The first hero a little boy ever had. The one person he could always rely on to save the day. After being injured by a vampire named Eli, Mike had chosen to save Nathan instead of getting himself to a hospital. He died while Nathan was fighting a soul eater, a monster that fed on the essence of mortals.
I never got to say goodbye.
His coat pulled at him in the light spring breeze. It had taken him five nights to track this one down. The Council of Chains had started to get cautious. Although it made his work more difficult, it meant they were starting to be afraid.
I’ve saved lives. That would make his father proud, wouldn’t it?
Nathan picked up some coffee on the way back to his truck, a dark green four-door flatbed pickup. He may have gotten over the shaking hands, but the hollow feeling in his stomach and brief dizzy spells told him his adrenaline was wearing off. He checked the time. Ten fifty-five. The coffee warmed Nathan’s throat as he drained the cup. He scanned the streets before climbing into the truck and starting the engine. No matter which station Nathan turned to, the radio announced increased gang violence. He really needed to get his hands on a police scanner. Mainstream media could only provide so many leads on supernatural attacks. Let the gang members kill each other. The cops could handle that themselves. Nathan had more specialized concerns.
Live jazz music flowed into the street as Nathan pulled up outside Hook and Ladder. His father, Mike, had dreamed of opening this place. Nathan waved to Sam Kinnon, a tall man with short blonde hair, tidy stubble, and shirtsleeves rolled up over thick-muscled arms.
Sam’s father had been a friend of Mike’s from his old fire fighter company. After an encounter with a vampire one night when they were closing up, Nathan revealed the truth about the supernatural world, and Sam admitted that he’d dreamed about past lives too.
“Done?” Sam leaned in to the car window.
“Garth’s dead. I’ll let the family know tomorrow. How’re we doing?”
“Business is good. The more vampires and ghouls you kill, the more folk feel safe here. But the Council sent people out again.”
“Some bruiser named Lucius.”
Lucius was a vampire. Nathan knew him by reputation only, but he had become the head enforcer for New York’s official ruler, Vincent Dorian.
“They’re sniffing close, boss. We need to be careful.”
Nathan rubbed his eyes. “I just need the support of a few more outside conclaves. Then they won’t be able to touch us.”
“They can kill you for this, can’t they?”
“Violating the treaty? They can do worse than that, if they have proof.”
The East Coast Treaty forbade reborn from entering the city. Nathan was free to stay because he hadn’t been involved in the war fought against the Council over fifteen years ago, but inviting others to New York was treading dangerous ground. Even employing Sam was technically a violation.
“You coming in?” Sam shifted uneasily as he changed the subject. “Band is good. You’d like them.”
Nathan shook his head. “Not tonight. I want to get some rest. Big day tomorrow. After the funeral I’ve also got to meet the people from New Orleans.”
“I thought Chicago was tomorrow?”
“No, their guy canceled.”
“Again? That’s the third time this month.”
“Apparently Chicago’s a busy town. Someone named Murphy is meant to fill me in when they get a chance.”
“All right. I’d better get back to work. See you later.” Sam went inside. Seeing the people through the doorway, drinking and dancing together, Nathan realized how long it had been since he’d had a night off. The band was playing an Artie Shaw cover. Sam was right; they were good.
Nathan parked his truck in the small lot tucked behind the bar and took two large sports bags out from under the tarp in the back.
The second-floor apartment had an external entrance up a winding set of metal stairs that rattled as Nathan climbed them. He’d been meaning to get them looked at for a while.
Inside the apartment was well kept. The previous tenant had decorated it with light earth tones and left behind several comfortable couches and a bed. Nathan stepped in to a small hallway that led to the stairs on his left and the door into the main room on his right. The main room spread out in a wide open plan with a kitchen area and breakfast bar in the far corner opposite the doors for the bathroom and bedroom. Bookshelves lined the wall, containing collections of novels and arcane texts Nathan had sourced from occult dealers. On one shelf, over a stereo and sitting between Mike’s jazz CDs and Nathan’s collection of classic rock, sat a small frame. Inside the frame rested the medal Mike had been awarded for rescuing half a dozen people from a burning building. Mike had been severely burned in the incident, forcing him into early retirement.
Nathan set his bags down next to the standing maps and charts arranged around his computer desk before hanging his coat on a hook on the wall.
Nathan left his sword propped against the wall. An ancient weapon he’d wielded in more than one lifetime, the hilt was decorated with the stylized image of a phoenix surrounded by flames. He left his leather utility harness on an armchair and went to the bathroom to check on his arm.
A gray reflection looked back at him in the mirror. Black marks hung under his dark blue eyes. Sleep hadn’t exactly been a major priority for a while. Just something he did as needed between patrolling the streets and looking for his next target. At least the broken nose he’d suffered fighting that ogre a few months ago had set well. His nose hadn’t lost its smooth line, angled like a hawk. A haircut might have been in order. His russet mop was far too unruly when allowed to grow out. And he needed to shave.
Nathan rubbed his eyes and took some antiseptic ointment from the medicine cabinet before removing his light long-sleeved t-shirt. The shirt was ripped a little, but he could patch it later. His coat would need some repair work too. It was already starting to look like the skin of Frankenstein’s monster, but the padding in the lining had saved his life several times. Nathan hated seeing the coat get damaged though. It had belonged to his father. Of course, that was before members of the underground-dwelling people known as The Lost had modified it for him, adding secret pockets and armor.
The cuts on his arm were light and had already stopped bleeding. Still, he wiped them down with some antiseptic, ignoring the sting. With that done, Nathan checked on the thick stripe of reddened, waxy flesh between his neck and right shoulder. The memento of a vampire bite that was treated both to purge the venom and to remove the scent of the vampire that had bitten him. Eli. Every time he looked at the scar he saw Eli’s sneering grin and the knife going into his father’s stomach. Killing him hadn’t made the pain go away.
Nathan flexed and rotated his arm, testing the skin around the joint. Still a bit stiff. He put on a fresh sweater and went to his map of the city, all stuck with color-coded pins representing recent numbers of attacks by supernatural predators. He kept a stock of blue pins for any time he managed to put one of them down for good. Nathan pressed one of the blue pins into the spot where Garth had died. That made 17 since he’d started his mission. Looking at the sheer volume of other pins, Nathan tried to tell himself that this was not a losing battle.
It was only a matter of time, he kept repeating to himself. Time and determination. Then one day he’d be ready to take on Dorian and topple the power of the Council of Chains for good. One day.
After booting up his computer and checking the news feeds for more reports of unexplained incidents or mysterious disappearances, Nathan sat back in his chair, feeling himself sink into the leather. He looked up at a collection of sketches pinned to a board on the wall. Faces of men and women dressed in styles from throughout history gazed back at him. Some pretty, some handsome, some homely. Some smiled while others frowned in anger or sadness. All young, between their late teens and early thirties. Nathan had known them all. Although he could recall their faces in perfect detail with a moment’s concentration, he still liked to look at them. Thoughts of killing and death faded away, sore muscles eased and Nathan drifted to sleep.
A child at heart who turned to writing and roleplaying games when there simply weren’t enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life. Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group.
Paul lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends. The following year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica.
Paul’s first novel, Locked Within, was released on November 6th, 2012, by WiDo Publishing. Silent Oath is the second book in this urban fantasy trilogy.
Find Paul Anthony Shortt Online:
“I received a free copy of these books from the author for my honest opinion.”