Michael David Matula “Try Not To Burn” Review

Posted: May 25, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , , ,



Publisher: Post Mortem Press

Length: 252 Pages

Submitted by the author for review

Rookie police officer Brandon Morales finds himself in Hell City after being shot to death in the line of duty by notorious serial killer Victor Gregory Rellik. His journey beings in utter darkness in which he is robbed of all of his senses. He can’t feel anything, see anything or even speak; all he is left with is the recollection of his run in with Rellik and a host of questions about his fate. As Brand runs through all the possible scenarios, he hears a voice.

“How long do you think it’ll be before he wakes up?”

Brand identifies the voice as belonging to a young woman speaking to her friend and listens to them offer up theories about who he is and what he did to end up in Hell City. Brand finally awakes in a run-down apartment shared by the two voices – Sam Reiss and Jane Calrin, two ‘mates of the city. Sam and Jane fill Brand in on the workings of Hell City, a bleak place with a dark sky devoid of any stars or moon, identical rundown apartment buildings and roads lined with flickering street lamps. The trio decides to stick together and brave the dangers of Hell City in an effort to find a way out and what follows is a harrowing journey through the darkest corners of the afterlife.

Matula offers a unique spin on the afterlife theme by adding his own rules. All of a person’s possessions they had when they died come with them and there is seemingly no escape from Hell City unless you are burned; consumed in a ball of fire after suffering a mortal wound. The final bell that signals the end of each day was also an interesting plot device. Everything is replenished after it rings; all injuries are healed and supplies revert back to their original levels. While this seems like it offers the characters an advantage over their adversaries, Matula adds an interesting twist that not only evens the odds, but places the characters in even greater danger.

Another strength of Try Not To Burn is in the detailed depiction of Hell City’s various locales and inhabitants. The city is populated by horrifying human-cyborg hybrids called Gral, which conduct violent raids and drag their victims away in what appears to be a recruitment attempt. Eden, the city’s serene looking garden, is home to invisible creatures that lurk in your peripheral vision and can attack with blazing fast speed. The horror continues underground with the introduction of giant snakes, leeches and other nightmare-inducing monsters.

Matula’s debut novel is an action-packed genre mash-up with a well-crafted mythology, inventive plot twists and a slew of interesting characters.  The only problem I had with the story was the introduction of one of the villains. There is a section told from his point of view and then he disappears from the rest of the story aside from a few mentions by other characters. This sets up the potential sequels well and is an interesting glimpse at his personality, but is a jarring transition within the context of this novel. Overall, Try Not To Burn is a highly enjoyable read and I can’t wait to read the other books in the series!

Rating: 4/5


Michael David Matula’s Official Website

Post Mortem Press’ Website

Purchase Try Not To Burn on Amazon



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