ARC Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Where Dreams Descend

Author: Janella Angeles

Published: August 25, 2020

Publisher: Wednesday books

Format: eBook

Source: NetGalley

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.

I was so excited when I was approved for this ARC and I think the cover is beautiful.  It was pitched for me as Phantom of the Opera meets Moulin Rouge with magic.  I think these are appropriate descriptions because I can absolutely identify the prevailing themes from those works in this story.  We’ve got a love triangle, lots of side characters who interact with the main plot almost as much as the main characters, there is magic, a strong female character who is almost infallible but no one else can even begin to touch her, and there’s a mysterious guy with a lot of power.  It’s all there and it’s all deliciously complicated. 

I found a decent amount of similarity with Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge, but also I saw a lot of similarities with the Shadow Game series.  It’s a bit dystopian with lots of people with different talents, maybe a bit of gang-ish activity, and lots of magic as usual.  I also saw some similarities with the Shades of Magic series, specifically book 2 with the tournament.  I found these similarities, but I think that’s all they are, ultimately.

The characters have depth and the writing is breathtaking.  I had no complaints about the narrative structure or the characters themselves.  I thought each one had a well-rounded motivation for their interactions in the plot, but also they belonged.  I’ve read a few YA books recently in this same genre that have completely unnecessary side characters, but these were all appropriate in my mind. 

The pacing was fantastic, I felt it went quickly and the narrative/magic system/political system was very interesting and fun!  I did not get sucked into this book like I have in other books.  Though the writing was incredibly descriptive and I enjoyed the style, I think it may have been just a bit too disjointed in some chapters for me.  Overall, this is a great new addition and debut in YA fantasy.  I really enjoyed reading it and I am looking forward to the sequel to complete the duology!

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the chance to review this book!  I received a complimentary eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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