Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: The Mine by John Heldt

Joel Smith was on the road, returning from his hike through Yellowstone Park with his good friend, when intrigue of a mysterious mine tickles his curiosity. After a frightful altercation with a creature from the cave, Joel blacks out and reawakens to a new world…in another time.

Although slow at capturing my interest at first, I was fascinated by the story’s unique rendition of a boy following his inquisitive instincts, falling through a black hole, and then finding himself in a strange land of history. It was a combination of Alice in Wonderland and Back to the Future—two movie classics I absolutely adore! And then similar to our beloved Alice and Marty, getting back home was the only thing hardened in Joel’s mind. When all hope seemed futile, he decides to make the best of it, living out the days of the past with his knowledge of the future with a steady caution.

Eventually, he meets a family and encompasses a new persona—a cowboy rancher, to say the least. Luckily, Joel does not strive as much to be John Wayne, yet he still masters the role of mysterious, eclectic stranger. Of course, as coincidence would have it, Joel ends up running into a family that happens to be his family (just like Marty McFly.) Suddenly, he has to watch where he steps as any wrong move could cost him his very existence.

The story took rapid flight as soon as Joel showed interest in the soon-to-be-married Grace. Suddenly, his little trip in time wasn’t such a disaster after all.

I liked that Joel was able to find companionship with Grace, but, at the same time, I didn’t see a connection that would generate something greater than friendship between them. What was the initial foundation for their attraction? On the other hand, this romantic element bound the various characters—characters that individually may have had too much focus at times—by immersing them in the “complication.” I enjoyed that everyone had an opinion on the matter.

Undoubtedly, I couldn’t stop reading until I found out how this love triangle would turn out, even though it deviated from the initial wonder of whether or not our hero would return to his time. The most interesting part, however, was Joel’s knowledge of the pending disaster that was about to befall them. What do you do when you’re a short time away from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? How can you stop fate?

Well-written and whimsically vivid; I was impressed by the descriptive language. The details were as vibrant as the lucid colors of a fresh painting. It felt like history broke through the tattered bindings of our school books and surrounded us with its raw, unappealing scents; it felt like I was actually there.

What I liked most about Mr. Heldt’s story was that it instantly provokes the question: If you had the chance to go back to a different time, what would it be? For me, it would be a toss between the “Happy Days” of Fonzie and the Golden Age of Norman Rockwell.


  1. I think I'd like to go back to the 1920's! I think that would be a total blast. We recently did an interview with John over at More Than a Review. Come check it out!