The Devil’s Highway is the folk name for a Roman road in north Surrey. The name is rooted in superstition, for in the Dark Ages, it must have seemed that only the devil could build anything so straight and strong. The Roman road marks the beginning of written history, of a civilisation that destroys in the name of progress. Physically and metaphorically, the Devil’s Highway runs through the interlinked narratives that make up the novel.
Set in the unforgiving sandy ‘wastes’ of Bagshot Heath, the three sections of The Devil’s Highway consist of three agons, or battles, against our self-destructive nature. In ‘Blueface’, an ancient British boy discovers a terrorist plot in which his own family is implicated. In ‘No Man’s Land’, two twenty-first century people – one traumatised by war, another by divorce – clash over the use and meaning of a landscape. Finally, in the futuristic ‘The Heave’ (where language is as degraded as the planet), a gang of feral children struggles to reach safety in a time of war.
Three narratives, one location, combine in a novel that spans centuries and challenges our dearest assumptions about civilisation. Combining elements of historical and speculative fiction with the narrative drive of pure thriller, The Devil’s Highway is an epic tale of love, loss, fanaticism, heroism and sacrifice.
“A brilliant deep-time meditation on how landscapes hold – and conceal – meanings.”~ Robert Macfarlane
“The best treatment of climate change in fiction I’ve come across. A powerful, essential novel.” ~ George Monbiot
Read more of our Climate Classics: timeless works exploring themes of climate change and biodiversity loss.