Arvin, Eric. “The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men”, Wilde Press, 2013.
I have been reading and reviewing Eric Arvin since his first book and I have seen him mature as writer and take on new genres. This time he writes speculative fiction and he charms the reader with this new story that is literarily very far away from Jasper Lane and m/m erotica. He really surprised me here with his story about Minerva, a river dweller and mystic.
Minerva is the only one who senses danger in the place where the old chapel was built and this is because she has powers and abilities that her mother passed onto her. It is her responsibility and duty to protect others from danger especially from Dark Eyes who is determined to destroy all who set foot on the grounds where the old chapel is. So far, everyone stays away from the area since they know that once on the grounds, death and/or disappearance follows. Evil is constant there and yet the chapel is able to pull others to it. Few heed Minerva and now she has few supporters and her destiny as leader is challenged by the forces of evil.
The themes of love, faith and family run through the plot as good versus evil tug at the characters (of which there are many— the young hero Leith, his lover Aubrey, and the mute, Deverell, Leith’s half-crazed mother Calpurnia with her own aspirations, Hamilin Marsh to whom residents turn to when needing leadership and Dark Eyes, a preacher and evil force, to cite just a few.
Leith is bound by duty to take care of his mother even though there is no love between them from either side and when the ultimate confrontation of good vs. evil occurs, sides are taken and familial duties fall by the wayside and each character plays a part.
Speculative fiction has lately become popular in LGBT literature and while this is also a romance, we get a read that is not like anything that I have ever read. Arvin proves himself to be a storyteller par excellence here. Each page seems to yield a new surprise. For me, the biggest surprise was loving the book because this is not the kind of literature I usually read.