At its heart, The Mine by John A Heldt is more a love story than a time travel story. It’s also extremely well-written and one of those self-published that are a joy to read – no typos, no misused words, no major plot holes. Very well put together, although I do think the cover needs a bit of work. The image is perfect for the story, but I feel it should be full page, rather than the bordered image it is. It does let down the excellent writing and imagery we encounter within its pages.
I’m a sucker for time travel stories. It’s one of the greatest moral dilemmas ever – if you went back in time, would you change anything, thereby possibly changing your own future? How would you survive a different time? Would you be too scared to even talk to a stranger in case that changed their future, thereby possibly changing the time you came from? Or would you throw caution to the wind, and just do as you do?
In 2000, Joel Smith is a college student, on a road trip with a friend, when he discovers an old abandoned mine. His curiousity leads him to explore it, where he encounters a mysterious light, and walks out into 1941. A time when his mobile phone [cell phone] won’t work, his money is no good and his country is heading towards war. He falls in love, and is then left with the dilemma – does he try and go home to his own time, where his family and friends are? Or does he stay, possibly changing the future of many people, including the woman he loves, and perhaps ending up fighting in a terrible war that happened sixty years before?
He falls in with a group of friends of his own age, with one of them being his grandmother. Joel’s certainly stuck between a rock and a hard place. By befriending his grandmother, and falling in love with one her friends, he is doing something that could change his grandmother’s future, thereby possibly making him never born? And how can he leave Grace, to go back to his own time? Does he tell anyone where he’s from? Honestly, how on earth would you deal with it? Would you tell someone, whereupon they would think you totally crazy? Would you mention something occurring that you only know from history, but hasn’t yet happened? How do you tell the woman you love that she’s actually about 60 years older than you are?
Poor Joel. Yet despite his dilemmas, he manages to cope quite admirably in an alien time. Taken in by the family of a young man called Tom who becomes a close friend, he finds a job and acclimatizes himself to the life of 1941. All the while, he is desperately trying to decide whether he will attempt to make it home, and stay with Grace, and possibly end up fighting in WWII.
A beautiful love story of a fish out of water, dealing with internal conflicts, The Mine is an excellent read. I did have two quibbles with it however – I really didn’t feel Joel’s emotions at discovering where he was. He seemed to accept it quite readily, which didn’t ring true. He didn’t panic, didn’t get upset, didn’t fall into shock. To be suddenly thrown into a world where you’ve lost your family, and all your friends; where you are truly utterly alone, and you know exactly what was to come for these people – it would be a helluva shock and Joel didn’t seem to react to it. (I know I’d be a quivering mess)
And the ending. While it’s a beautiful ending, and it’s the ending that I wanted to see happen, it felt very rushed, very much a deus ex machina. Although having said that, I have just realized this is part one of a series. And the third book The Show seems to deal with that. I’m not saying any more as I don’t want to do any spoilers, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be picking that one up. :D
At the time of writing, The Mine is currently only 99c at Amazon’s Kindle store – and believe, despite the quibbles I have with those two particular things, it’s very much a bargain price for this great read.