Jules Gabriel Verne was a French novelist, poet, and playwright best known for his adventure novels and his profound influence on the literary genre of science fiction. Verne is generally considered a major literary author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism. His reputation is markedly different in Anglophone regions, where he has often been labeled a writer of genre fiction or children's books, not least because of the highly abridged and altered translations in which his novels are often reprinted.
Covering a time span of over ten years, this novel follows the fortunes of the mining community of Aberfoyle near Stirling, Scotland. Miner James Starr, after receiving a letter from an old friend, leaves for the Aberfoyle mine. Although believed to be mined out a decade earlier, James Starr finds a mine overman, Simon Ford, along with his family living deep inside the mine. Simon Ford has found a large vein of coal in the mine but the characters must deal with mysterious and unexplainable happenings in and around the mine.