June 22, 2012


by John A. Heldt
Kindle Edition 2012

Review by: J. S. Colley

Note: I received a free copy of this ebook for review purposes. I am not acquainted with the author in any way.

The pitch for this novel intrigued me: In the year 2000, a college senior enters a mine and comes out in the year 1941. “Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war.”

Lots of potential there—will Joel ever find his way back to the present? Will he ever see his family and friends again? What about the looming war? Will Joel be caught up in it? If he is stuck in the past for a long time, will he want to go back to the future should he ever get the opportunity? And, most important, will his interactions in the past affect the future?

While this book turned out to be not what I expected, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The actual mine plays a very small (yet pivotal) role in the novel. It is less about science fiction or fantasy and more about romance. Fans of Nicholas Sparks, or other romance writers, will love this book. It is a cross between The Notebook and The Time-Traveler’s Wife.

The entire time I was reading I assumed the author lived through the 1940s, but when I looked at his author profile, I see he’s a much younger man! Heldt did an excellent job researching the time period. It added a real sense of authenticity. Heldt captured the tone of the times through both character development and references to what was popular during that age—the music, dances, social mores, and historical events.

I enjoyed this novel; it was a pleasant and interesting read. The author knows his craft—there were very few, if any, grammatical or typographical errors, and the story was well structured.

 I did have a few issues with this otherwise enjoyable read. The first is Joel’s reaction to finding out he’d been flung back in time. He seemed to figure this puzzle out rather quickly. I didn’t get a sense of the utter terror, confusion, and doubts to his sanity that surely would have occurred. This book would have been much stronger had Joel’s reaction to his predicament been more visceral throughout the novel. The second is the overuse of 20th century pop culture references, or too clever wording, when a simple straightforward phrase would have worked better. To his credit, the author abandoned this in the second half of the novel. It made for much better reading. The third issue concerns an action by the protagonist toward the end of the novel that I didn’t fully understand. Joel gives a significant gift to one of the characters when the logical choice would have been another major character. This didn’t distract me too much, as I assumed the protagonist had a good reason, it just wasn’t made crystal clear to the reader.

Even though I have expressed some concerns with the novel, it has many strong points. As I stated above, overall, I enjoyed it. It was a very pleasant, nostalgic trip through the past. It contained just enough tension and conflict to keep the reader interested, and the ending was poignant and satisfying.

I would recommend The Mine to anyone who likes romance, historical fiction, or nostalgia pieces. As I stated before, I’m amazed this author didn’t actual live during the 1940s. He did an excellent job portraying that time period.

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