Today’s featured book is Where Dreams Descend, a debut novel by Janella Angeles, that takes us to mysterious Glorian. This book review is part of a blog tour; and thanks to Wednesday Books for having me on their tours. I do enjoy being a part of the same. My book reviews take a fair share of beating and editing as I ponder about how best to put my thoughts about the book – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the glorious – all in one place. So here is today’s – much edited (and updated) – book review of Where Dreams Descend for the blog tour.
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The Blog Tour
Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the eARC of the book; and thanks again to Wednesday Books for inviting me on this blog tour for Where Dreams Descend.
The Book Review
Where Dreams Descend
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.
What I Loved
A competition for magicians, a city with secrets deep in the woods, mysteries surrounding all the main characters, and a cool traveling(?) circus make this book’s premise super cool. I have always been enamored by the circus (and of course magic) since I was little.
While the story’s world is male-centric, the story is not…It is a lot about girl-power and I cannot say I don’t like that 🙂 There is one female character who does annoy – in the form of the mayor’s pampered daughter – but the number of strong female characters makes up for her.
To be honest, I loved the supporting cast even more than the main characters (Kallia, Demarco and Jack), though I did not get to spend enough time with them(the supporting characters, I mean). It will be nice to see more focus on some of these characters in book two of this duology.
I loved Aaros (Kallia’s first friend and her assistant), Mistress Ira (who is the seamstress, a magician of sorts, and seems to be more than she is made out to be), Canary the Conquering Circus’ uncrowned ruler, and even Erasmus Rayne, the proprietor of the circus and the one responsible for the competition.
The Writing and Other Things
I truly enjoyed the writing in parts of the book (more on this later) and the beautiful descriptions of some of the locales and events. I also enjoyed the parallels to the suit of cards simply because I always enjoy things like this. ;though how the suit related to the city was still a bit unclear at the end of the book.
First things first, I love-hate cliffhangers, especially when I am not sure how long it will be before I can find out what happens next; and this book (is it a spoiler to say so?) ends in one “really?!!? (both in a good and not so way)” cliffhanger…
And of course, the cover!!!
What I Did Not Enjoy as Much
The Pace and What is Said
It started off slower than I would have liked; and then there were a couple of other places where the pace seemed off. While I do love lyrical and descriptive prose (which this book definitely has), sometimes those additional words are simply more than needed. And this book does have a few such sections.
That Which Remains Unsaid
A little more emphasis on other characters and other things would have been better. Kallia enters a competition with nine other magicians; and they almost seem like non-entities in the book. It would have been cool to see at least a couple of the competitors as ones that challenged her, a bit.
And maybe a little more fleshing out of the other characters. I know I would have liked to know more about the powers of the members of the Conquering Circus, as well as the Circus itself.
Those Character Issues and Such
The characters, places and events sway between being a little too sensuous for a (younger) teen read and being a little juvenile. Also, as I pointed out earlier, the characters, locales, as well as the events that would have added more substance to the story were overlooked more than I wished they had been. For example, the other magicians – I knew only the minisculest about them; even Kallia seemed to have issues remembering their names. The competition which was supposedly about ten magicians just focused on Kallia. And that wonderful circus seemed like just a side-act:( (except for a couple of spectacular scenes!)
The beginning of the book was confusing; it took me a while to get into the book between the slower start and the confusion. And then the story, as it progressed, while it picked up pace, also seemed to be setting up a list of questions; most likely (hopefully), those will be answered in the sequel. So many questions and all that mystery definitely left me feeling, a bit, like they say, too much of even a good thing….
While those things I noted above would have made this book a whole lot better for me, I did end up bookmarking many many quotes (proof that I did enjoy the reading overall!)
Here is just a sampling of all those (too many to include them all here):
- “…he played the devil on all shoulders, leading patrons to his bar and game tables, guiding them toward his enchanted smoke lounge to drown in curated memories. The warmth of first love, the heady rush of triumph, the immense joy of dreams come true.”
- “A dream broken up into pieces, longing to be chased.”
- “He stole the shadows of objects and gave them new masters… “
- “There was something tragically forgotten about it all, this place that yearned to be remembered.”
- “…the Glorian sky was a blinding gray white in the morning. It always looked like it was close to raining –eyes a breath away from crying, though tears never came.”
- “Exhilarating performances always exhausted her until everything seemed a little funny.”
- “His heart skipped a heavy beat, running faster than it should. Even as time slowed.”
- “He was just there to be there, and for that, he’d become her truest friend.”
- “If you can’t stay small in the box they’ve built around you, they will make you feel small until you fit right back in it.”
- “Everything whirled faster, until she couldn’t see straight. Dancing always made the world stand still.”
- “He would’ve vanished from her periphery altogether had he not become such a thorn, always catching at her.”
- “It was wrong to justify what sort of hurt mattered and what didn’t. Anything that left scars came from hurt. “
Note that the quotes are from an advanced reader copy and may differ from the finished edition.
The ending (as well everything else I liked about it) made up for the cons in this book. It has me creating all the possible sequels to it myself 🙂 While I know some readers might not enjoy such an cliffhanger-ish ending, for me, it simply wowed!
So yes, this book is worth a read for all that is good about this book and will definitely appeal to audiences who enjoy the elements that make up this book.
And – I want more company while I wait for the sequel to this one!!!
Get It Here
More Book Info
“Janella Angeles steals the 2020 show with her fiercely imagined debut starring larger than life characters, a dangerous world alive with magic, and a dizzying dose of grab-a-fainting-couch-and-swoon-away romance!” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves
“Where Dreams Descend is a glamorous dark gem of a tale, sparkling with romance, magic, and intrigue. Readers will be captivated by prima donna Kallia as the mystery is slowly unmasked. Bravissima!” – Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
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.
Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me with digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Would You Rather
Would you rather be a magician or a circus performer extraordinaire?
I think I would love being a part of a circus, and so I will choose circus performer….
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, what is your book about magic/magicians or the circus? Do let me know.