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 DescendFeatured
When Kallia learns of a magical contest in Glorian, she decides to go for it. She knows that she is the best. When she arrives though, the contest will become something even more dangerous, and the secrets that are hidden in Glorian and the people she meets will reach for the surface.
What I loved: The setting was really intriguing, especially with magic, its use, and the sexism around it. There are some politics of magic in the background, about whether it should be used for domestic tasks vs. "wasted" in performance, along the lines of whether a painter should be used for painting houses and buildings vs. creating artistic paintings. I found these background themes really intriguing.
What left me wanting more: The beginning of the book really pulled me in with this strange house, unusual person (Jack), and unusual skills. However, we leave it really quickly for Glorian, where things become more typical and move a little too fast. Kallia is somehow the best at pretty much everything (including detecting thieves and lies), and I felt like I needed more background for this. It felt like the plot knew where it wanted to go and took shortcuts to get there. I wanted more of the house/Jack and Kallia's training. I also wanted more context/background on the thief and Kallia (it was like he tried to steal from her and then they became BFFs). There was a lot of telling vs. showing. I didn't get the background on relationships or how people connected. The shows themselves were fully described, but not the other stuff that I wanted to know more about.
There are also a lot of secrets, and many of them were teased enough that they were easy to figure out before the big reveals. I would have liked to be more surprised. I think this book would be good for readers who like a fast-pace without as much inner monologue or build.
Final verdict: Fast-paced with intriguing secondary themes, WHERE DREAMS DESCEND has CARAVAL and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA vibes. This would work for readers who like a fantasy read that moves quickly without internal monologue or deep dives into character history and motivations.
The beginning of this novel pulled with in with it's lavish scene setting and a girl that desperately wants to break away. Kallia finally breaks away from her master 'Jack' and ends up in Glorian, a town filled with mysteries and deadly secrets. I really loved the world-building and the mystery behind Kallia. Jack calls her 'Firecrown', which hints at her magical powers. The premise of Jack taking people's memories was intriguing. So was his true relationship with Kallia.
What I had issues with had to be once Kallia ends up in Glorian. The writing is fast-paced, with numerous different characters. I got confused more than a few times on what was really happening in the story. There is a three-way love triangle between Kallia, Jack, and Demarco, who has his own secrets. I didn't really feel the chemistry between Kallia and Demarco. I did feel it with her and Jack though and wanted to know more on what exactly held them together. Hopefully that will be revealed in the second book in this series.
Gorgeous writing throughout this story. I really wanted to love this story, but the different plot twists and turns confused me. I ended up wanting to know more on why it was so dangerous for Kallia to be in Glorian. I especially wanted to know more about Jack and his own magical abilities.
Carnival meets Night Circus set in a lush world of magic, intrigue, and danger. Perfect for fans of circus stories with magic.
2. Carnival meets Night Circus
This book was everything I wanted and more. It begins with Kallia and her performance. It quickly descends into her escaping the house and finally going to the city after discovering that there will be a magical competition. After a dazzling, and controversial, audition, Kallia becomes a competitor. Female magician’s are not very popular nowadays and Kallia begins to realize that between the judges and her fellow competitors. The story escalates quickly with mysterious disappearances and shadowy images. It’s really hard to give a good review of the plot without causing any spoilers, and this is one book I don’t want to spoil for anyone. It was so much fun reading and trying to predict what was going to happen next in the story. There were some situations that were easily predictable, but others that were not. One of the worst things about getting this in advanced is now I have to wait even longer for the second book and Janella leaves us with a doozy of a cliffhanger. The one thing that was phenomenal about this book was the atmosphere. I could easily imagine this desolated town trying to make a comeback. The tension between everyone was undeniable but also the beauty in the magic that was being presented. Overall, the pacing was fantastic. Honestly, I was kind of expecting more but this novel really presented the world and the characters. While doing so, a lot of action couldn’t be made. I have a feeling I’ll get everything I wanted in the second book though.
The book is told in 3 point of views. Kallia’s point of view dominates the novel, which isn’t a bad thing at all. I loved reading about this passionate young woman who is trying to become something. She knows she’s going to be someone important someday and I loved reading about her overcoming every obstacle. The one thing that really drove me to Kallia was her determination but also her weaknesses. Her mask was almost always in place but as a reader, her other sides were shown. Demarco was amazing! Throughout the whole novel, he held a huge secret in why he didn’t practice magic anymore. I actually read this with a friend who also received an advanced copy and it was so much fun coming up with theories. While I guessed only a part of it, the rest I did not see coming at all! That ending is really going to throw you for a loop. Jack’s point of views were different. They were told in short bits and as “The Master”. The reason why I liked this point of view is because it brought a darkness to the novel that just fit. Each character really brought something to the story all being told in a different point of view. Along with the main characters, I loved the side characters. Whether it was from the annoying mayor to the fire-eater Canary, they fit so well with every part. And if anything, and I mean ANYTHING, happens to Aaros — I will riot.
Overall, Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles was an absolute success. I was really worried about reading this novel at first because I was so excited for it, but it met every expectation and more. This story was unbelievable and so much fun to read. There isn’t much in action for this novel but it really sets the tone of the story and the characters. Each character was so well established and I loved them all. Everything fit so well together and the ending was not what I expected at all. I cannot wait for the next book. I highly recommend this book if you like magic, competition, and memorable characters that will stick with you for a while.