In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.
As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.
The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost
The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told
The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide
Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.
I received an advance review copy of the book for the blog tour; all opinions expressed are my own and honest.
Representation: (click to show)
POC-coded major & minor characters, bi/pan secondary character [Aaros]
Content warnings: (click to show)
mind/memory manipulation & gaslighting, precanon loss of loved ones, serial killings, body horror
As an avid fan of The Night Circus and Phantom of the Opera — though I’ve never seen Moulin Rouge — I was overjoyed to get my hands on an ARC then even to be asked to join this blog tour! And despite this recipe for getting my hopes up too high, on the whole Where Dreams Descend does not disappoint.
One of my earliest, strongest impressions was that the prose flows elegantly, so atmospheric that I actually literally held my breath. There were whole pages I wanted to highlight. I was torn between slowly savoring each passage and racing to learn more about this fantastic narrative I’d been drawn into. The setting and cast come alive, if you’ll pardon the cliche.
The writing style is consistent throughout, which is objectively a good thing … but at some point I picked the book back up and suddenly found myself impatient with all the descriptions, poking holes in the metaphors. (An inexplicable experience probably unique to me, so make of it what you will.)
And the characters? Exquisitely crafted. Though the star is undoubtedly Kallia, each of the main players has thoughtfully developed independent motives and a satisfying development arc; rather than supporting cast members, they are equally strong candidates to carry the story.
Since romance and hearts mentioned in the synopsis, I wanted to talk a little about the relationships — skip the rest of this paragraph if you want to avoid potential (vague) spoilers! The draw of the opening chapters, for me, came in no small part from the sizzling chemistry between Kallia and Jack; however, as the story progresses Kallia’s interactions with others, including Demarco, feel a little flatter by comparison. But the friendships and platonic partnerships are pretty solid, which help balance everything out and which I really appreciate.
My main critique: I did feel that Where Dreams Descend might draw a bit too heavily from the comps mentioned earlier: multiple scenes and symbols are very close parallels or mirrors (and they’re specific and/or iconic enough that I don’t believe they’re general tropes). For readers who love homage and allusion this will probably be a plus; for readers who prefer memorably unique stories, less so.
Still, Where Dreams Descend is very well-paced with multiple subplots and organic developments that don’t rely on shock value. It’s an engaging, well-told show of a book with many surprises in store.
Conversion: 11.13 / 15 = 4 stars
Rating Details: (click to show)
Prose: 5 / 10
Characters & Relationships: 8 / 10
Emotional Impact: 9 / 10
Development/Flow: 8 / 10
Setting: 9 / 10
Originality/Trope Execution: 2 / 5
Rereadability: 4 / 5
Memorability: 4 / 5
About the Author
JANELLA ANGELES is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age — which eventually led to penning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she’s lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she’s most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.
[Icons Credit: Side_Project]
This post is part of the blog tour organized by the publisher.