Andagin is hunting across a heathland in the south of Roman Britain two thousand years ago, but he is about to discover something that threatens him and his communities safety and means that he will have to betray a family member.
Two millennia later, two troubled men have a differing opinion over the same landscape that Andagin and the Roman occupiers once walked. Aitch, haunted by the effects of war wants to use it as he sees fit and Robbie’s father struggling to cope with the fallout from a divorce is passionate about protecting it.
In a future world, a broken world where heathland has become desert. A gang of feral children flee slavery and conflict in a time of war, hiding from those pursuing them, heading to a part of the country where rain is believed to still fall from the sky.
These three stories all have a common trace, The Devil’s Highway. A Roman road constructed across Bagshot Heath, to Sunningdale and to Silchester and beyond. The historical, contemporary and dystopian stories are layered and intrinsically linked by this terrain and the road that traverses it. It is a story that shows how humans over the course of 3000 years irreparably alter a landscape and a planet. We go from a tribe who are in tune with the natural world who have been taken over by invaders who couldn’t care less, to a modern world where almost no one cares, to a bleak place where the planet has stopped caring back. I really liked the Roman and modern-day tales, though I must admit I struggled with the language with the mob of children set in the future though. The way that the stories were draped over the same landscape was really well done too, elements in one would be visible all the way through. I grew up in the vicinity of this area, so places in the book were very real to me. This book made me think a lot a couple of days after reading it and while I thought that mixing the stories up a chapter at a time was good, but I think for me it would have worked better having them as three separate novellas within the same book.