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.
Where Dreams Descend is pitched as Phantom of the Opera meets Moulin Rouge, and as an avid figure skating fan, I am extremely familiar with and have developed an ardent love for both (and their soundtracks!). I fully agree with and endorse these comparisons, as we have a lively and complex cast of characters, a plot and world surrounding performance arts, magicians, and moody boys.
Here are five reasons to read Where Dreams Descend:
1. Defeat the patriarchy? More like step on it and ask it to say thank you.
The prologue begins with the history behind gender discrimination within the magician community, with the disappearance of female magicians. Not only have they disappeared, but these occurrences have been written off by some as happenstance or coincidence rather than something more sinister and targeted. Women rarely are the stars of the show, and it is hinted at that this is in fact no coincidence. Throughout the story, the main character Kallia, who seeks justice and the spotlight for herself and other girls and women, attempts to uncover the mystery as well as regain momentum as a performing artist.
2. The book’s overall tone is sensual, romantic, and mysterious. The character development accompanies this well.
Janella Angeles hints at a love triangle between three characters, except it is not overt and the advances are moreso done behind closed doors and there seems to be some backstory the reader is trying to unfold throughout the book, which increases the tension a LOT. Like, a lot a lot. And we all know I love me some yearning. On top of this, there are layers and layers of mystery that include the discriminatory history, events that seem too suspicious to be random, the Conquering Circus competition, and the allure of the town of Glorian.
The characters who are most developed are our protagonist Kallia, who is an orphan taken in at Hellfire House, and is a performer. She battles with the forces of nearby woods that she was left in as a small child, and basically yells at the patriarchy throughout the entire book. We stan. There is also Jack, who owns Hellfire House. There are two other characters who we meet in Glorian. Daron/Daring is a judge at the Spectulore and Aaros is a thief who connects with Kallia after he tries to rob her. They each have their own inner demons and mystery that the reader tries to piece together about their respective backgrounds and motives.
3. It is an engrossing adventure and once the pace picks up, you will not be able to put it down.
When the story opens in Act I, Kallia expresses a strong desire to escape to a town called Glorian holding a competition for magicians, which she sees in an ad that she is keeping secret. She then attempts to run away from where she is being housed with the characters who took her in, but is confronted by the danger of the woods nearby. From that point, I was hooked and Act II begins. There are acts of talent, events that take place with no suspects, illusions, and forces of nature. Your mind will always be busy and left wondering while reading. The magic system development involves some suspension of disbelief but this only adds to the atmosphere of intrigue.
4. If you loved The Night Circus, The Crown’s Game, and/or Caraval, this is definitely the book for you.
I remember the first time I read The Night Circus. I was so enraptured by its whispers of magic and whimsical tension. I was captured by the duels, battles, and demonstrations of talent. Sometimes, the characters are ruthless and their desire overtakes them. This is a huge comparison point both in theme and tone to Where Dreams Descend. The level complexity and detail of the magic system given to the reader is about on par to not only The Night Circus, but also The Crown’s Game and Caraval. As mentioned above, there is some disbelief that must be suspended in order to appreciate all of these works, but that is part of the appeal. Another comparison to be noted is the references to color which really reminded me of Caraval.
5. One of the greatest heights of tension arrives at the end of the book…
Okay, so, yes, there is a cliffhanger, but I will say that once you hit the first plot twist, you will not want to keep reading because the buildup is both quiet and huge in volume. By the time you know it, you will be 90% through the book and it will be 4am. There is for sure something to be said about an author who can keep you wanting more in book two, and I can guarantee that there will be no second book slump in this series!
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.