Critics Corner


Try Not to Burn features Brandon Morales. Brand is a police officer who experiences a life altering event in the very first chapter; actually, the very first page. Matula’s novel grabs your attention from the very first page and doesn't let it go.
Brand, is thrust into darkness. He can't figure out his surroundings. When he becomes aware that his surroundings are actually the afterlife, he meets Jane and Samantha who become his guides and his close friends. There's a hint of a romance brewing; from checking out his blog it appears that aspect is explored further in the sequel. That's a good thing, as in this instance it appears it will add an element of depth to his next book.
The characters travel through one horrible experience after another, meeting up with strange and horrifying creatures–none from this earth. They have to rely on each other for food, knowledge, and protection, as they all discover why they’re there and how to defeat those who would like to see them dead.
Along the way, Brand learns a lot about himself. The reader is fed piecemeal about the women he’s traveling with, including why they’re in the same place he is. The reader learns quite a bit about how they lived their lives and what personal demons they're battling.
Michael's writing is tight. His descriptions are vivid, making even the fastest reader want to slow down and savor every single word.
I’m looking forward to reading more from Matula. There's great talent here. I found myself really rooting for Brand to figure things out, all while hoping he would also win the girl.
If you want a real page turner, this is the book for you. But wait until you have several days to devote to reading because you won't want to put it down until you're finished.
Nobody’s perfect, right? We’ve all done things in our lives that are wrong, even though we are good people, right? Many of us assume that when the end of our life comes, the good we have done will far outweigh the bad and there won’t be a need to wonder the results of our judgment day. What if that isn’t exactly true? What if your soul teeters on the edge of getting “burned” before you have a chance to redeem yourself? Three souls find themselves running for their eternal lives in Hell City, chased by the demons of the underworld, each has their own reason for being there, each has committed such evil sins against God that, unless they learn to trust in each other and dig deep, they will be lost for eternity. There are many levels of trials placed before them, can anyone be trusted? Will they learn to give of themselves and earn another chance to gain a peaceful immortality? How many levels of trials must they endure until they have atoned for their sins?

Try Not to Burn by Michael David Matula opens the gates to hell with his dark fantasy, giving us a frightening look at the unknown. The “burning” hurdles he creates for his three main characters, a policeman, a bank robber and a broken-hearted teen would test the mettle of a saint. Written with dark and ominous detail, we never know who to trust and his imaginative world is frightening, unstable and seemingly inescapable. From the first page to the last, you’ll be transported into another place, feeling the evil, the fear and the danger that lurks around each corner. At no point is the path clear, as we follow alongside these three souls through this dark labyrinth in the run for their lives and a way out of Hell City. It’s enough to make you think twice about listening to the little devil on your shoulder saying, “Just do it, you won’t get caught!”…Maybe not in this lifetime…

Boom Baby Reviews: 5 Fireballs
This story had the feeling of those old horror stories–a movie, a book, a “what would you do” scenario told at slumber parties: you wake up in a room with several strangers, what do you do?
But I liked that!
Matula is a very competent writer. We go several chapters without an actual change of scenery, but you don’t mind. The characters and mystery engage you enough to keep your attention, and the story flows well enough to carry you right along.
I’m always fascinated by unique or different depictions of Hell and Purgatory, the darker and unusual settings. Matula provides an interesting scenario, blending the spiritual, the emotional, the physical; merging past, present, future; bringing religious concepts without necessarily any specific religion, so it has a general appeal and fascination without being “preachy.”
This book brings in another thing I love: characters living in the moral grey. You know from the start that our Main Characters would not be there if they hadn’t done something to earn it, but you root for them anyways; even after you learn what they did. You’re still there with them.
Really, my only complaint is that we spend more than a third of the book from one Perspective and then suddenly go to others, which is something that always bothers me. I am, apparently, the Point of View police. I like consistency. Either stick with the one, or mix them from the start.
And, of course, there was that one moment when I was almost shouting, “Not the red pill!” (You’ll understand when you read it.)
I’ll warn anyone who reads that this is not a one-shot book. By the latter couple of chapters, I knew there was going to have to be a book two (at least) as not everything wraps up in this one. We have a bit of a cliff-hanger, but I liked the rest of the book enough to forgive the author. ;-)
There is one plot device too oft used (especially in horror stories) that bothers the hell out of me and given the setting, I worried that this book would go there and it didn’t. I was pleased with that.
Really, I…don’t have much to complain about. It was an interesting and engaging read, fast-paced and fascinating. It’s a 5 Fireballs, and I’ll definitely be looking for the next book.

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