Fiction Review: The Dig by John Preston

I actually picked up a tattered paperback copy of The Dig several years ago after seeing it referenced online in a discussion about books that do a good job of portraying an archaeological dig. It wasn't until I was offered an ARC of the new edition, however, that I finally made time for John Preston and his literary treasure hunt.

To be honest, if I didn't feel obligated to give it a review, I likely would have discarded this to the DNF pile. There was some interesting history behind it, and an impressive amount of detail in some of the excavations, but the narrative itself was painfully dry, and the characters tediously English. I mean, there is some very cool stuff going on here, and some really exciting things being revealed from the mysterious mounds, but there is absolutely no emotion to the book. Everyone in it takes such pains to be prim and proper, and Preston himself seems compelled to similarly reign in his enthusiasm.

I'm sure there are literary merits that I'm glossing over, and I'm sure cultural aficionados could pick apart the words and the sentences to reveal a whole other layer, but as adventures go . . . as archaeological discoveries go . . . The Dig was just a wholly underwhelming read.

Paperback, 272 pages
Expected publication: April 5th 2016 by Other Press (first published May 3rd 2007)

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.


  1. Hmm, disappointing.

    "Tediously English" -- ha.

  2. Dissapointing to hear about the dry narrative. I thought this one had potential, but I'll pass for now.

    Majanka @ I Heart Reading

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