REVIEW: ‘Where Dreams Descend’ by Janella Angeles is a sparkling debut


Lights, camera, action! Janella Angeles is ready to take readers on an adventure in this magical mystery.

There’s no doubt that Where Dreams Descend is inspired by both Moulin Rouge and The Phantom of the Opera, but this book stands on its own two feet.

From the Blurb:

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 fear, and no heart is left unscathed.

With most debuts, I find that it’s always hard to get acquainted with the world the author is trying to build for the reader. Where Dreams Descend was no different. Although the book begins with a lot of dark intrigue, the story didn’t grab my full attention until I was about a quarter into the book, and that’s where it began to bloom.

Jack is the mysterious owner of a club that is hidden deep in the woods where people flock to drown their sorrows in drink and catch a glimpse of Jack’s star showgirl, Kallia. On the surface, Jack seems content with the life he lives, but for Kallia, it’s a different story. Kallia dreams of using her magic for more than just her showgirl shows at the club. With absolutely nothing left to lose Kallia decides to leave Jack and the club behind for the magical city, Glorian.

Kallia and Jack’s relationship is intense and complicated. It’s hard to get a clear read on who (or what) Jack exactly is. Even after finishing the book, I’ll admit that I still have no real clue what his true purpose will be in this series. I both love and hate this.

As for Kallia, she is an absolute gem. Her character is intimidating at first but I love everything she stands for. She’s confident and isn’t afraid to let others know that she knows she’s the best magician. She doesn’t let obstacles get in the way of her big dreams.

Once she’s in Glorian, the story picks up its pace and becomes more interesting. Glorian is a dead town in the middle of nowhere, but readers will find out that it holds a lot of secrets. Kallia is there for one reason only, and that is to enter the grand magician’s show, Spectaculore.

More characters are introduced as Kallia begins to navigate her way through the competition. They’re diverse and fun in their own way and I enjoyed all of them! The most important amongst them is the brooding young judge, Demarco, who immediately butts heads with Kallia.

The two of them are the center of this series. Where Kallia is a burst of bright colors, Demarco is simple. He likes his solitude after once being a magician and now has no dreams of ever stepping onto the stage again.

As Spectaculore takes over the town of Glorian there are mysterious things happening within the competition. The mystery and intrigue throughout the story was a happy surprise! It added more depth to both the characters and the world.

I had high expectations for this book. I’ve followed Janella Angeles for a while and I’ve been patiently waiting for her debut. I’m so happy that Where Dreams Descend delivered and more. Angeles’ writing is descriptive and captivating. I felt like I was right inside of this world with each word.

I applaud her for tackling current issues set within a fantasy story, too. Kallia and the other women characters are constantly being told they belong in the background, but none of them stand for that. They are all fighting for their rightful place on the stage.

Overall, Where Dreams Descend is a dazzling debut and perfectly sets up the sequel (there is a major cliff-hanger so beware). The only downfall to the story is how I wish the magic was explained a bit more instead of having readers guess how the entire magic system works.

If you’re a fan of fantasy stories or mysteries then this book is for you! Janella Angeles seamlessly weaves both of these genres together to tell a fantastic story.

Perfect for fantasy readers

"And she is the reader who browses the shelf and looks for new worlds but finds herself." - I'm a writer who enjoys telling you all about the things I love, which includes a lot of books!

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