The first novel you read by an author will inevitably colour your relationship with their works. Like a first kiss, you are full of hopes and expectations of pleasures to come. Often that first book is a disappointment, but occasionally you are lifted by the imagination and words of the author and transported to the world they have created.
And so I came to Nine Layers of Sky by Liz Williams, and found myself enjoying a tremendously good and engaging story. A modern Science Fiction novel set in the crumbling Soviet Union, which blends fantasy, myth and plausibility to offer an excellent journey of discovery and redemption.
In true Russian style there is a wonderfully flawed hero, 800 year old Ilya, who cannot die and who copes with existence through heroin and alcohol, as well as a fallen heroine, Elena, who must move beyond the confines of her rational, scientific world, and of course, the Rusalki.
The whole story hinges on the connection between dreams and other dimensions, and at times I felt there were hints of a worthy homage to the Strugatsky brothers in the plot. This is a story which crosses genres, between fantasy, SF, and road trip, without faltering or taking a wrong step. The best novel I have read for some time and well worth the time – read it!