Mercia’s Take by Daniel Wiles – Review
By Sandra Callard
This is a reasonably short story written by Daniel Wiles and set in the Black Country in 1870.
The Industrial Revolution is at its height and Michael (no surname) is a coal miner, with all the danger and filth that it entails. One day working underground his hammer hits a seam with gold in it. He digs it out, but his mate sees it. Just as his life seems to be miraculously changing, said mate steals it and then vanishes. However, Michael is an intelligent man and, although wasted in the mines, he puts his intelligence into finding the thief and is quick enough to track down the offender, Cain, and the result is game changing for Michael and his family.
The words used by Michael and the rest of the working class people are written in the way in which they would have been spoken. This naturally slows down the reader’s speed of understanding as they struggle with the pronunciation, but it adds tremendously to the atmosphere of the story being told. It is well worth the effort of translating the old words into modern usage, in spite of the lack of pace in the reading.
“Impact is huge”
The story is simple, but the way it is written is not. It is a slow, careful, very visual but unpretentious journey as the author works his way through this very unusual book, but the effect on the reader is anything but laborious. It hits the reader with the force of one of Michael’s hammers, and it stays with you for much longer. It is certainly not an easy read, but the impact is huge and the impression is certainly long-lasting.
This is a story of power; of the great power of the mine, the heart and the people who lived these lives in fear of hunger, accident and indeed of the mine itself and it generates a massive feeling of gratitude to those long dead men for their “strength and stay” during those powerful and often horrific times. Strangely though, these people are still very much like us, be it in our warm homes or slick offices, as we, too, do our utmost for our families, albeit without the horrors of the mines.
This is a unique and very unusual take on the short story genre, and one which you will undoubtedly enjoy, but which will pull you up straight as you give thanks that you are alive now and not then.
‘Mercia’s Take’ by Daniel Wiles is publsihed by Swift Press