If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. – Kahlil Gibran
There’s a single line in Eric Arvin’s The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men that, if I were being lazy, I’d use to sum up exactly what this book is and leave it at that: “It felt like a dream, an illusion ended before the mind could piece it all together.”
There. Now you know everything you need to know about this grand and glorious novel. Wait. You know two things now because, yes, it was like an illusive waking dream, but it was indeed also grand and glorious. It was epic in only the way parables and mythology and fairy tales of the battle between good and evil can be, and it’s a book that fed all my nerd-girl reading fantasies.
The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men is a walk through the valley of the shadow of death, where animals speak and the forest is enchanted, where magic and faithcraft contest the encroachment of the Outside World, and where superstition and science wrestle with zealotry and spirituality. It is a valley where a chapel resides on poisoned ground, as those who are called there are swallowed into the very bowels of its corruption. It is a place where a famine of birds has allowed a plague of bugs, a place where the Angel of Death lurks in the treetops and keeps an ever watchful eye upon the few remaining souls there. It is a place where God and Gaia have yet to find a way to peacefully coexist.
The river valley is the place where sacrifice and grief walk hand in hand with fate and destiny—the fate of what is meant to happen, the destiny of where that event must lead—where the renunciation of love is at worst a death sentence and at best a decent into madness. It is a place where the trinity—the three that replace one as the symbol of power—will stand together and emerge victorious so that they may have hope for the generations to come.
The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men is a story of hope and faith and of courage, in which courage doesn’t mean an absence of fear but is the sort of bravery a man sometimes finds when he feels he has nothing left to lose.
It’s a book that feeds the imagination and is a feast for every reader who loves the sort of prose that flows poetically through a world that is just on the other side of extraordinary. It is symbolic and supernatural and is the sort of book that makes me want to celebrate my love of reading. It’s one of the more unique books I’ve read in a very long time and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.