ARC Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles [Blog Tour]

Instantly captivating, Janella Angeles’ debut fantasy Where Dreams Descend (first in the Kingdom of Cards duology) draws the reader into a world of mystery, intrigue, lies, and a whole lot of magic.

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Welcome to my review as part of Wednesday Books’ blog tour for Where Dreams Descend, a stunning debut YA fantasy hitting shelves on August 25th! I’ve been waiting for this book for over a year, and I’m so excited it’s almost out in the world! 😱

A review copy of the book was provided so that I could take part in the tour, but as always my opinions are my own.

Instantly captivating, Janella Angeles' debut fantasy Where Dreams Descend draws the reader into a world of mystery, intrigue, lies, and a whole lot of magic. Click To Tweet

About Where Dreams Descend

Publisher: Wednesday Books  |  Release Date: August 25, 2020  |  Pages: 464
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy  |  Format: Paperback ARC  |  Source: Publisher

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.

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My Review ofWhere Dreams Descend

✨ You can read an excerpt over at B&N Teen!

I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve been waiting for this book for over a year. I think Where Dreams Descend was one of my top five anticipated releases for 2020, and I’m happy to say that it did not disappoint! I was instantly drawn into the magical world Angeles wove, and devoured the book quickly. Pitched as Moulin Rouge meets Phantom of the Opera with a hint of The Night Circus – that’s a good description, but this is a story all its own unlike one I’ve read before.

“The Conquering Circus Presents…S P E C T A C U L O R E
Where the stage tells a story, and legends are born!

Where Dreams Descend is told in acts like a play, and the book itself feels like a performance in a way that I can’t really describe. Beautiful and captivating, Angeles’ prose flows on the page and draws the reader into a magical world.

While I was most swept away by the plot and world, I absolutely adore Kallia. She’s inquisitive and ambitious, with a longing for adventure and belonging that I relate to. As she begins to experience the world and form relationships within it, my heart soared for her. The character relationships and rapport Kallia builds are truly special. Let it be known that Aaros is the best and I defy you to think otherwise.

“‘What you see in any reflection is a world unto itself, one you can believe in because what you see aligns with what you know surrounds you.'”

Trust and reality itself are at the fore throughout as Kallia and the reader are never really sure what is true. Reality blurs and so much is unknown by our main characters, and the way worldbuilding is revealed is like standing on shifting sand… constantly leading you to readjust your footing.

“‘But none of you make it to the top, and we all know why. You’re just a spectacle, something pretty to look at – nothing more.'”

But there is more than just a beautifully crafted fantasy story. Where Dreams Descend also looks at gender equality in a way that mirrors how women in the workforce are undervalued. Female magicians have few options and are expected to be in gendered roles, the life of performance being for men only. Kallia competing in the Spectaculore to claim the recognition deserved by her skill ruffles more than a few feathers.

“How wonderful it must’ve been, to come into this life with the searing blaze of choice. To practice and learn magic however you wished. To go wherever your feet could take you. It was only too easy to imagine how such a life might’ve changed her. To have had the glory of choice over the promise of power.”

My one complaint is I feel like I’m left with more questions than answers at the end of the book. I’m the kind of reader who is particularly invested in worldbuilding, and I felt like I was missing an “aha!” moment where something clicked into place. That being said, Where Dreams Descend is a book with immense re-readability. Now that I’ve gotten to the end, I wonder what other clues I would pick up on a second reading.

Overall, the setting and descriptions in this one set Where Dreams Descend apart in my mind. The prose wraps you up like a blanket and captivates you while reading, and I loved the fast pace that kept me hooked to the end… I can’t believe I have to wait a year to find out what happens!

Content warnings: loss of loved ones, patriarchy & sexism

ARC provided by the publisher for my honest review. Quotations are taken from an uncorrected proof and subject to change upon final publication.

Have you read Where Dreams Descend yet or is it on your TBR?

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

8 Comments

  1. Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books

    August 21, 2020 at 1:31 AM

    This was such a lovely review, Kal, you have me so, so very curious to read this book now. This magical world sounds fascinating! 😀

    1. Kal

      September 19, 2020 at 10:06 PM

      Thank you so much, Marie! I’ve seen some mixed reviews from people but goodness, this book was perfect for me!

  2. Dini @ dinipandareads

    August 21, 2020 at 3:30 AM

    Great review, Kal! I’ve been wanting to read this one as soon as I learned about it earlier this year and I can’t wait to pick up my copy 🙂 It sounds like a beautifully written story and an exciting and magical setting!

    1. Kal

      September 19, 2020 at 10:07 PM

      It is such a good book Dini, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! The magical writing and romance worked for me and I can’t stop thinking about the book

  3. Shatarupa Dhar

    August 21, 2020 at 9:27 AM

    Wow! What a spectacular review. Eagerly waiting to read this. 💜

    1. Kal

      September 19, 2020 at 10:07 PM

      Thank you, and I hope you enjoy it when you pick it up!

  4. Reg

    September 22, 2020 at 8:30 AM

    Such a great review! The moment I heard about this book I knew it was an instant add to my TBR. I haven’t picked it up yet but I am hoping to get to it in November. It just seems right up my alley. Plus the cover is stunning. I really can’t wait to pick this one up.

    1. Kal

      September 22, 2020 at 12:37 PM

      YES! I am so glad that my expectations were met for this one because it sounded so good and that cover is *chef’s kiss* The pacing is slow, so just be wary of that when you pick it up. I hope you love it like I do!!!

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