With incredible depth and outstanding narrative skills, J.M. DeMatteis presents a fictional breakdown of the role of memories in our lives.


Sandra wakes up to a strange child watching her sleep. Scary, right? Scarier even is when her husband, Barry, assures her this is their child, Henry. Why can’t she remember him? It turns out Sandra is the latest victim of the so-called excavator. A creature that kidnaps people’s memories and asks for a ransom. But who is he? And why? Will Sandra ever recover the precious bond between mother and child? “The Excavator” by J.M. DeMatteis follows Sandra and two F.B.I. agents, Davida Stone, and Hanson Kodiak, as they try to solve the mystery of The Excavator while they deal with their own ghosts. 

It’s blatantly obvious that the premise for this novel is exceptionally original. The author did a fantastic job with the background stories of the characters. The pacing flawlessly combines action scenes, dialogue, and emotional passages. Masterfully created by Vassilis Gogtzilas, the illustrations are as dark and compelling as the story and are not just there as an ornament, but they enrich an already brilliant book. But, most of all, the author opens a lot of questions that will enrich the reader’s inner lives: what are we without our memories? Is evil born or made? Is empathy a blessing or a curse? 

The author does a brilliant job of giving tangible qualities to abstract concepts. I literally can say this is the most brilliant use of “metaphysical synesthesia” I’ve read.

There’s not a single word in this book that could be cut out without hindering the reading experience significantly. DeMatteis carefully selected the vocabulary to make the reader tingle. This shines especially in the use of adjectives and adverbs, which are a writer’s best tool or worst nightmare. DeMatteis’s ability to handpick his words is crucial in such a brief work. Finding the right balance between emotional and corny is often hard, but DeMatteis excels at it. For example, describing a toddler as “the world’s happiest drunk” is adorable and accurate without being mushy. He also describes a non-nuclear family as “a nation of two,” a phrase I plan on quoting from now on.

On a deeper level, The Excavator could be read as a series of allegories for mental illness. The ghosts that, paraphrasing DeMatteis, haunt and hunt someone with, say, depression are very real in this novella. That’s, of course, my interpretation, but I’m sure there will be as many as there are readers.
If you think there’s nothing new under the sun, The Excavator is for you. If you’ve ever wondered if monsters are born or bred, The Excavator is for you. If you’ve ever wanted to get rid of a bad memory, you guessed it, The Excavator is for you. Aspiring writers can learn a lot from DeMatteis’s curated word selection. Finally, anyone who needs a little faith in humanity, which, I get it, can be scant these days, should read “The Excavator.” Because, as DeMatteis says, “The universe is far kinder, far more benevolent, than those idiots on CNN want us to believe.” (p. 13)

Book Details

  • Title: The Excavator
  • Author: J.M. DeMatteis
  • Genre: Horror
  • Theme: Psychological
  • Publication Date: June 21, 2022
  • ISBN or ASIN: B0B1YR4GL2
  • Number of Pages: 139
  • Minimum Audience Age: 18

Book Themes

(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)

  • Sexual themes: 1
  • Religious themes: 0
  • Violence, self-harm, etc.: 3
  • Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 2
  • Other adult themes: 2


  • Content: 5 stars
  • Writing Style: 5 stars
  • Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
  • Uniqueness: 5 stars
  • Editing: 4 stars
  • Other factors: 5 stars
  • Overall: 4.8 out of 5

Featured Book: “The Excavator” by J.M. DeMatteis and Vassilis Gogtzilas

Book Details Synopsis J.M. DeMatteis’s amazing supernatural story, The Excavator, which features outstanding drawings by Vassilis Gogtzilas, is a mind-bending journey into dread and salvation. A strange boy is standing at the foot of Sandra Rosen’s bed as she awakens. She quickly realises that it is her son Henry. But she can’t recall ever meeting…

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By Fermosalua

B.A. in Literature and Linguistics. Professional daydreamer, reader, and art-lover. Amateur artist. Housewife in my spare time. Words are my life so I strive to encourage authors and readers alike.

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