Fresh Face Friday: Try Not to Burn by Michael David Matula

Happy Friday!  I hope everyone is ready for the weekend.  I know its gonna be a wet one here but it’s still the weekend so that counts.  Today I have the opportunity to feature Michael David Matula and his book, Try Not to Burn.  This was definitely a unique story.  It takes the reader to places they dare not think about.  Into a world that most people live their lives to avoid.  Be sure to check out my full review after the Book Blurb.  I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend and be sure to check in Monday for two reviews!

Book Blurb:

16036270Officer Brandon Morales remembers the last smile he ever saw.  It was the smile of the serial killer who shot him at point blank range.  When Brand awakens, it’s into a much darker world than the one he left.

Purgatory.  The inmates call it “Hell City.”  The demons who populate this nightmare simply know it as the first stage of the Gauntlet, God’s own testing ground for the immortal soul.  It’s a grinder; a massive pit that chews up the worst criminals society has to offer.  Souls go in, and they rarely come out.

Traffic violations and little white lies aren’t enough to condemn a soul to this level of purgatory.  Only a cardinal sin can seal that fate. Hell City is like a maximum security penitentiary, if the warden left the cells unlocked and waved the guards goodbye.  The inmates roam freely, many delighting in the carnage, finding satisfaction in an infinite number of victims.

Brand doesn’t want to admit that he might have earned his place here.  It all seems like a cruel joke to him.  The courts acquitted him of his crimes.  They deemed it self-defense.  He never told anyone what had truly happened that one night, when he gunned down two robbers in cold blood.  Even he had started to believe his innocence.

He has only one chance to make up for what he did.  If he can survive the Gauntlet, he can earn a second chance at life.  If he fails at any point, flames will engulf him and drag him straight to Hell.

Trying to make sense of it all, Brand stumbles across two women with sordid pasts: Samantha Reiss, a tough-as-nails bank robber who died from lethal injection, and Jane Calrin, a teenage girl who ate a bullet after committing an unthinkable crime of passion.  Despite what they had done, Brand can’t help but see the good hiding within them.  They seem worthy of forgiveness, and worthy of redemption.

However, when a horde of inmates descend upon their doorstep, Brand, Sam and Jane are forced out of their meager hiding place and into the untamed depths of the afterlife.  With their souls hanging in the balance, and eternal damnation never more than one wrong turn away, these three strangers will need to put their trust in one another in order to stay one step ahead of the flames of Hell.

The Gauntlet trials are not for the faint of heart.  Purgatory creates another challenge whenever the current one is overcome.  The city park, Eden, becomes anything but a paradise, and is prowled by unseen, whispering threats that can tear a man to pieces.  The underground sanctuary, the Grotto, becomes home to burrowing monsters and unimaginable behemoths.

All is not lost, though.  There might just be a guardian angel lurking somewhere within purgatory.  And if Brand can find him, he and his new friends would gain an ally that could turn the tide in their favor.

But when enemies pose as trusted friends, when lost loves crumble the will to continue, and when hidden desires threaten to tear allegiances apart, it will take more than faith and determination to pass God’s final test.

It will take a miracle


We first meet Officer Brandon Morales at what should have been a routine traffic stop.  The only difference is that this traffic stop ends his mortal life and thrusts him into Hell City.  Hell City is a purgatory for molesters, killers and any other kind of deviant you can think of.  When Brand awakes he meets two women Jane and Sam.   Both have managed to survive Hell City but the dangers that are occurring daily threaten everyone’s lives.  Though they are already dead the threat of getting Burned is imminent and an idea that is a fate worse than death.  So, the trio set out to survive together.  Unfortunately, they find allies aren’t really allies and trust is wavering and very fragile.  When Brand almost gets burned more than once an option to survive and possibly get out is given to him.  He must find the soul could help him and his friends survive and get redemption.  The only problem is that is not as easy as it sounds and they don’t know who they are looking for.  In a place where devils abound they must find a possible angel to guide them to safety and life after death.  Can the allies work together to survive or will obstacles and diversions tear them and their chances for surviving apart?

This was a really enjoyable read.  I thought the premise was unique and well written.  The story itself is enough to scare people into being a better person.  I really enjoyed the back stories of the characters and the opportunities and challenges that are given to the trio.  I thought Brand’s character was good, but really felt that his back story of his purpose of being thrown into Hell City was a bit strained considering Brand became a police officer for reasons other than those of why he was in purgatory.  I also thought Jane and Sam were wonderful supporting characters that both helped the story and Brand’s character to grow.  Overall, it was a great read and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good paranormal suspense book.  It gives the reader so much to enjoy and reads very well.

Author Bio:

6536141Michael Matula is a novelist from Chicago, IL, and a current member of the Chicago Writers Association and the SCBWI. Michael once dreamed of becoming a comic book artist, sketching pictures and caption bubbles in class when he really should have been studying. Unable to draw fast enough to keep up with all the ideas and storylines he came up with, he wrote out a side story for one of his characters. He ended up falling in love with writing and never really looked back.

His first book, Try Not to Burn, was released in September 2012 by Post Mortem Press.

He’s currently working on the sequel, and a sample of one of his novels won the top prize on after being ranked at #1 overall.

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