I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TITLE: Where Dreams Descend
AUTHOR: Janella Angeles
Publisher: Wednesday Books
PUBLICATION DATE: August 25, 2020
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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.
That’s how I felt for the most of Where Dreams Descend, and definitely after I finished. Only the ending resulted in a more of a “WTF just happened!” confusion versus the “I don’t know what’s happening” confusion I experienced while I was reading. I’m not mad that I was perplexed – it definitely makes me more interested to read the sequel, but I am slightly annoyed that only a few of the sources of my confusion were resolved by the end of the story. This is honestly probably my biggest problem with Where Dreams Descend. If there are any mysteries in a novel, I need some sort of payoff or resolution to them by the end of the book.
Another source of confusion is my reading habits while reading this book. I’m naturally more of a one sitting reader, but I found myself willingly taking breaks while reading Where Dreams Descend. I don’t know, I just couldn’t read a lot of it at once, which is unusual for me. The story was wonderfully written and intricately woven, but it just didn’t pull me in until past the halfway mark after most of the world building is established and the plot picks up.
But that might be because of the writing. As beautiful as it is, it can get a bit redundant and flowery at times. It kind of reminds me of Jay Kristoff’s writing in Nevernight.
I also felt like some of the characters were underdeveloped and didn’t experience any significant development throughout the story. I get that they’re all supposed to have mysterious pasts, but again, it’s just too much mystery and not enough answers.
As for the romance, let’s just say this one I blame on the synopsis. It was not what I was expecting. The characters had great chemistry, but I still felt like the romance was a bit forced. I think it might have just needed some more time for it to feel more genuine.
Despite my complaints, I really did enjoy reading Where Dreams Descend. Where it shines is with its star, Kallia. She is just so fierce and confident! There are times where she does toe the line between confidence and arrogance, but I can hardly blame her. Even though the story takes place in a fictional world, I loved how it alluded to many modern-day struggles and issues, such as the fact that women, and especially women of color, have to work harder to be taken seriously. Kallia is an excellent representation of that. I feel like she often wears her confidence like a suit of armor against those that want to belittle her accomplishments and potential.
Where Dreams Descend is an intriguing read full of mysteries, almost too many. I loved Kallia and her fierceness and how magic was woven into the plot but it wasn’t as spectacular as I’d like. I can’t believe I have to wait until 2021 to read the next book.