Here I go again being unfamiliar with popular culture things and still reading books based on them anyways! That’s right, I’m doing it again. To be fair though, I know the absolute bare minimum details of the two comp titles used to promote this book, so I didn’t feel as lost as other times.
And yet even if I hadn’t been exposed to The Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge before reading this I would 10/10 want to know all about them afterwards!
Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
Pub Date: August 25th, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
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.
Kallia is *chef’s kiss* phenomenal! A powerhouse is the best description for her. She was fierce and unapologetic all the time. She had dreams and a goal and boy did she risk it all for to get what she wanted! She has been living in the cage all her life and I love that she takes her chance at freedom despite the fact that she might be headed into more danger. She got bite and she not afraid to use it!
Demarco was your broodster and I liked him well enough. He was more reserved for *reasons* He was not running from his past, but more trying to do penance for tragedy that stopped him from performing. I liked how much he overthought things. Quite opposite from our dear Kallia who went in head first and damned the consequences.
Jack is most mysterious of all the characters and I liked that we got to circle back to him every once in a while. I liked the intrigue and danger that surrounded him and his club that was in the middle of the woods. He’s not a villain per see, but I can definitely tell he is not everything that he seems!
Aaros is my favourite character. Gosh I loved him. He was charming and silly and complemented Kallia perfectly as her assistant (no toxic masculinity here), I don’t know why I always fall for the side characters, but I did and I love him! His platonic relationship with Kallia was so great! We love to see it!
The world building…oh I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but this world is quite intriguing! I raged at the patriarchal society that tries to squash Kallia, but I gotta say I loved to see her break every barrier and overcome their fragile gender ideals! That being said there is some mystery deeply engraved in this world. The dynamics between the magicians and non-magicians were interesting because the people with power were both revered and feared! Then we throw in a circus and things just get way more fabulous! I loved the Conqueror ladies and I would 10/10 read a book solely based on them! And finally put in a deceptive and dangerous forest that isolates this city and you are fully immersed in this world of wonder and magic!
Spectaculore was exciting! I’m always a sucker for competitions in books! As I said before, Kallia had to break through several hurdles set in her path because she was a female magician performing on stage as herself and not an assistant or showgirl. This competition had high stakes and always held a surprise. Personally, I loved reading about Kallia excel in this craft! I loved reading about the shows she put on and the magic she made happened.
The romance was triangular and yet…was not. I can definitely see The Phantom of the Opera influences when it comes to the romance. I liked the hate-to-love thing going on between Kallia and Demarco! It kept things interesting. I liked Jack’s secret visitations to Kallia, even though they bordered stalker creepiness! It just kept things interesting. And I hesitate to call this a true triangle because I’m not sure if Kallia can truly be interested in Jack after having kept her trapped for so long.
The ending was quite quite QUITE fascinating and cliff-hangery. I’m into it.
Alongside the competition plot is also this mystery that well stays a mystery XD It digs into every corner of the story and it brought some thrill which I liked, but in the end it’s just a series of bad things that happen. It hooked me in the moment, but then we quickly forgot about it so I didn’t find it all that compelling in the end.
This story is a slow burn, it was a lot of build-up as these characters danced around revealing their secrets to each other and to the readers! I like the slow burn, but this one led to some not really jaw-dropping reveals. Like I wasn’t shocked when the revelation happens. It was a little underwhelming really. I had hoped for something more. Something big and explosive, but I felt only a little glimmer of “Oh!” I was just not that surprised or shocked by the secrets that get revealed.
The magic is just magic. I didn’t really identify any origins other than some are born magical and some acquire it. I was left with several questions of what exactly this magic is to a person, born or acquired. Like what do they feel? Is it a force they pull from within? How does magic vary from person to person? What makes one stronger than the other? It was a book full of magic, and yet I felt like it was the least explained part of the novel.
I wanted to see more of Jack and Kallia and Hellfire House’s past to feel that emotional intensity. I get that Kallia was supposed to be really attached to Jack and the house, but I just didn’t feel it. I think more time should have been spent in Hellfire House before we left for Glorian. The former had thrill and was such a big part of Kallia’s life, but we spend so little time there. Like we are told that her connections to this house are big, but we hardly spend enough time there to feel that same pull ourselves. It’s simply a place I would have liked to spend more time in, even though I understand the bigger part of the story happens in Glorian.
Overall, this book was a magical experience that sparked but didn’t catch fire. It is long and you have to be patient with the slow burn, but I think that it was pretty entertaining overall. I’m sure big fans of The Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge will find little Easter eggs and nuggets to enjoy. I, myself, found this book enjoyable but not astounding. It has magic, but the mystery of the unexplained bad thing kept me from truly being swept off my feet. I think even a tiny more information about it could have helped. I think the characters and the circling perspectives were the greatest assets of the story. This book might have not met the shock I had hoped for, but I would be willing to read book two!
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Recommend: I’d say yes for the slow-burn lovers!
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading this? Are you fans of the musicals?
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