The new fantasy novel Demon Tree commences in the near future.
Society has been decimated during the Fall. Strange lights in the sky led to widespread madness across the Northern Hemisphere and the building of the Great Wall. Soon after grew the Demon Tree. It started as a forgotten seed in the London Natural History Museum. Now it dominates the ruined city, reaching upwards hundreds of feet to create a twilight world.
The Tree is endlessly inventive and it learns fast. It has started to create other entities from the living wood, including the disciples – thirty-foot high creatures that roam the surrounding forests – and a cunning and cruel homunculus named Darkness.
The Demon Tree sporing
The sporing is now approaching and time is running out for life on Earth. Science has failed to stop the Demon Tree. However, more ancient and earthly powers are awakening. Nature goddess Annan has been asleep since Celtic times, but the Demon Tree was not created by her and she is angry. When she awakens druidic mage Myrddin Wyllt and tells him what he must do, a sequence of events commences that changes everything.
The city’s agents on the streets – bough-runners – are nourished by kine, an addictive sap that bestows gifts upon its servants and terminates those no longer useful. Seventeen-year-old kick-ass Swift is a bough-runner, and like the others has been given a special gift from the museum by the Tree. Swift inherits a museum-piece Colt 45 and the lightning skills of a gunslinger from her lover Lonewolf when his time comes. She must use the gun to end his suffering.
Swift is different from her kind, determined to find the mother she dimly remembers and to revenge the death of her lover. She vows to kill the Demon Tree, but cannot do it alone.
Below the streets, deep in the London Underground tunnels live the Hellon. Invisible to the Demon Tree, they dwell in total darkness and have surrendered the gift of sight. Talented engineers, the Hellon are destined to play a key role when Swift joins them.
Scattered groups of nature-loving Edenists inhabit the vast forests beyond the city. Amongst them are relict scientists from before the Fall, desperately seeking a way to prevent the spawning. There is growing tension between the sects. Some Edenists possess second sight. Cool and studious Bella Oak has much greater powers, and her autistic younger sister Hope is stronger still.
Bella and Hope’s parents are scientists, but the girls are also children of the forest. Whilst Bella’s people hate bough-runners, she and Hope will join Swift in the fight for freedom after the Demon Tree kills their parents.
Bough-runner and cynical assassin Carmen Ghoul is mother to Swift, although separated since being chosen. The Demon Tree senses a new threat buried deep on a hillside bearing a White Horse, where a strange creature named Myrddin Wyllt is awakening. The Demon Tree orders Carmen to kill him, but she is equally drawn by the new force.
The giant Myrddin awakens in a crypt below the Downs. His last memory is of a priest named Father Bartholomew cutting his throat, having been betrayed by sorceress and lover Hama. Re-born and not entirely happy, the wizard escapes from his tomb below the White Horse and heads for the forest. Soon after, he encounters Bella and Hope Oak facing a disciple. He is unable to save their father and is stung and blinded in the process, but also witnesses the psychic powers of the two girls as Hope sets fire to their attacker.
As Bella and Hope care for him, the child-like Myrddin discovers he has been dead for fifteen hundred years and the world is much changed. He learns of the Demon Tree and understands why he has been awakened by the goddess Annan. He must find seven warriors to assist him in his quest, in a fragmented and confused world. Hope is amongst them, also Cerebos the crazy hellhound and resentful Hama the sorceress.
The mage does not understand the new world. He can seem primitive and uncaring but develops a strong bond with the girls. He longs to find Hama, but also fears what she might do. When Bella informs the people of her village that Myrddin has awakened, the high priest Artur Blackstone sees it as a threat and accuses her of blasphemy.
Myrddin recovers and helps Bella escape the members of her village, but Hope hides in the forest. Bella explains that there is a sickness amongst the villages, and bodies have been found with empty skulls surrounded by a grey powder. The victims have been infected by the Tree and are bearers of male spores, and Artur Blackstone has become a servant of the Cazash Tree.
Hama was hoping to become wraith and to escape the torment of the flesh with her beloved Dra-Gon, and is sad at being awakened by Myrddin, who she once loved but learned to hate. She knows he needs her help, but why save a world that has no place for her kind? Hama decides to complete her journey with the only one who understands her, but Dra-Gon is buried in the Swiss Alps below a magical obelisk. Hama lives south of the Great Wall. Managing to ignore Myrddin, Hama sets off on her quest.
Bella and Hope
The girls run from their infected village, heading onto the Downs and away from the forest, which is no longer safe for them. Two disciples are already in pursuit when a hound the size of a bear races towards them with a red light in its jaws. The disciples are torn apart by Cerebos, which soon leaves and heads for the ruined city in search of its master.
Bella and Hope follow until the Demon Tree traps them in a cage made of roots, and Blackstone arrives. The Demon Tree murders Bella but before it can kill Hope, she discovers her power again. This time, the roots and Blackstone are consumed by fire. Dazed and distraught, Hope makes for the fortified town of Avalon where she is imprisoned with the other gifted children. Dock is there, and another girl named Anna. Dock has powers as great as Hope, but fear makes both of them weak.
The magic book
Myrddin retrieves a magic book. Three rune-stones must be found. The clues in the book suggest that one is in the old Channel Tunnel. Another is at a site in Hungary, not far from the terminus of the underground railway. The third is hidden in the museum, below the Cazash Tree itself. Touching a rune-stone will send it back to the mother-stone below the sacrificial table on the Downs, but the touch is fatal.
Myrddin, Cerebos, Carmen and Swift set off on an epic train ride with the knowledge that three of the passengers will die. They encounter resistance on their journey from renegade bands of Hellon. When they find the first rune-stone, the driver sacrifices himself and the stone is secure.
Hope and Dock enter the museum building below the Cazash Tree and face many dangers, but finally locate the stone. They touch it together, hoping that their powers will save them, but Dock is lost. Carmen gives her life for the third stone, repaying her debt. Swift drives the train back to London where a Hellon army awaits.
The final show-down with the Demon Tree
Swift and Myrddin return to the stone table with the Hellons. On their way they discover hundreds of infected people standing on top of buildings and waiting for the moment to spore. The Demon Tree has sent up more giant flowers and only the rain keeps it at bay, but even Myrddin cannot make it rain forever.
Hama waits beside the obelisk. She believes she has failed when she feels the ground below her heave upwards before tearing open. She watches as her beloved Dra-Gon emerges. The body is the size of a jumbo jet and so is each wing. Its tail is a hundred yards long and the pupil of each eye is taller than a man. Dra-Gon is not pleased at the awakening. The world has changed, and every step and each breath are agonising. But Dra-Gon has been awakened by its mistress, and it tells Hama to climb into its ear before it begins the journey to England to save Myrddin.
The countless servants of the Tree are no match for dragon-fire, but Dra-Gon leaves Hama on the battlefield and heads to London. Hama joins the fight and is reunited with Myrddin. As the Demon Tree tries to spore, the dragon attacks repeatedly until the city is on fire. In a final act of defiance, Dra-Gon dives into the Tree and all are consumed in the inferno. The dragon becomes wraith and is finally free.
A future without the Demon Tree
Hama and Myrddin cannot return to their time, and must find a way back from hate to love.
Swift, Hope and Dock must together help build a new world, but people are hard to change. A little while later, a new sect begins to form, worshipping a fragment of the demon tree which is already growing roots. A self-appointed priest is preaching intolerance and hatred, refusing to recognise the secular way of life. He is judged and as the novel ends, the sound of a Colt .45 echoes from the hills.