Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards, #1)
by Janella Angeles

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 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 received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I cannot stop thinking about this book! Where Dreams Descend was maddening, the characters were infuriatingly secretive, and the author was downright diabolical. Normally, an excess of secrets and unshared information really ruins a book for me, but Where Dreams Descend thrived on the unknown. This book made me think of Moulin Rouge, Now You See Me, and Caraval, so naturally I'm obsessed.

I can forgive most of the secrecy in this book, because everything is shrouded in mystery. Glorian is a town that no one knows much about. It's history has been lost to time, and the residents don't like discussing the past. The rest of the world has spun stories and invented tales to explain the town's quiet existence, but no one really knows anything about it. I really enjoyed learning more about Glorian and its inhabitants, and only wish the author had told us more about its origins. We sort of learn why no one talks about the past, but there's still so much we don't know.

Jack has an unimaginable number of secrets and his entire existence is a hidden agenda. I'm still not sure who he is, or how he came into Kallia's life, but he was fascinating. He was also controlling, possessive, and jealous, but I think his heart was in the right place when it really mattered. He obviously knows things that no one else does. Do I wish he'd been more forthcoming with Kallia? Yes. Do I think it would have solved a lot of his problems? Definitely. Would the story have unfolded differently? Possibly. Everyone keeping secrets kept me on my toes, but it also prevented me from really knowing what was going on. The characters don't just keep information from each other, but we're also left in the dark as readers. It was like they couldn't even think about the things they were trying to hide.

Kallia was a fierce character that I loved! She knows what she wants, and she's willing to do whatever it takes to get it. She has trust issues (understandably), but still refuses to share pieces of herself with those who have proven their friendship and loyalty. I wish she'd confided in Aaros more, since he was Team Kallia from the start. They get along smashingly, and he's super supportive of her, but she still keeps him at arm's length. Slowly, so slowly, she depended on him more, but still kept her innermost thoughts and feelings to herself.

Daron was wow. I'm still not sure how I feel about him, even though he's supposed to be the main love interest. He's in Glorian for reasons he doesn't want anyone else to know about, he's super flaky when it comes to his feelings about Kallia, and he's very determined to keep his years-long secret intact. A secret that I doubt many people would've really cared about. Additionally, I'm not sure how his magic related to Kallia's and the competition, despite Jack and Kallia seeming to know something at the end. Like, I think I know what the author was trying to say, but I don't actually know. Does that make sense? It doesn't help that the book ends without answering any of my questions. 

How can you do that? How can you write a magnificent story - - one that I cannot stop thinking about - - yet give almost nothing away before its conclusion? I actually have more questions now than I did at the start, but the story simply stops AFTER SOMETHING MASSIVE HAPPENS. Cliffhanger of the century, friends. I honestly don't know how I'm supposed to wait for the next book in the series, because I needed answers YESTERDAY. 

The magical elements of Where Dreams Descend were lovely and unimaginable. Angeles has one hell of an imagination, and her spin on magicians and their magic (born and acquired) was very creative and unique. I only wish we'd gotten to learn more about how it works, where it comes from, and how the two types differentiate. I also wanted to know more about the Patrons and what issues they were trying to control elsewhere. There's just so much I still don't know, despite feeling like I've lived in this fictional world my entire life.

Moreover, I wanted to see the magic the other contestants wielded during the competition. We only get detailed descriptions of Kallia's performances, and I would have liked to see how hers compared to the other acts. What were they doing with their magic? How do they manipulate their tricks?  There are actually very few instances where we see anyone other than Kallia or Jack using their powers to do something extravagant. It seems effortless for Jack, while Kallia shows obvious signs of strain and depletion, so it would've been nice to see their differences compared to those of the others.

Basically, I wanted more. That would be my main complaint about this book. Where Dreams Descend was utterly captivating, but also not enough. I really hope we get more answers in book two, because I don't think I can emotionally handle not knowing anything for a second time. ALSO, THAT ENDING WAS INSANE. Please, Janella. I beg you. Please give us more answers in the next book. I desperately want to know WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. Sincerely, Me (and probably everyone else that reads this book). (★★★★☆)


  1. This book sounds amazing. I', definitely going to check this one out.
    I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much. Even if you didn't get any answers. Sigh.. that's so frustrating!!

    1. It was amazing! I just wanted more, haha. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. My library needs to get this book, or I guess I could try the audio! Sounds like this book is 98% mystery, haha.

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    1. That's accurate! A lot of mysterious things happen! ;)

  3. Sounds good! I'm wary because books with secrets piled on top of secrets really get on my nerves but if it didn't bother you so much I'm willing to give it a try! Plus, the cover is so freaking beautiful!

    1. Normally, I would agree with you! However, this book is all about magic and the things you can't see, so the secrets really tied into the overall story. The cliffhanger was brutal, but i will definitely be picking up the next book to see what happens. :)

  4. If you loved it so much not DESPITE its being shrouded in mystery, but BECAUSE of it, it must be a job well done!

    1. Right? I feel like I was tricked into something... ;)


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