Book Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Posted November 25, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

Where Dreams Descend

Where Dreams Descend

by Janella Angeles

Series: Kingdom of Cards #1
Publisher: Wednesday Books on August 25, 2020
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on 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.


There are a lot of things to really like about Where Dreams Descend.  It was compared to The Phantom of the Opera when it was first announced, and you know how those comparisons always disappoint? This one did not.  Particularly for those who have actually read The Phantom of the Opera rather than exclusively relying on Andrew Lloyd Webber to delver the story.

Wow.  Just wow.

I know this book wanted perfect, but it absolutely surpassed my personal expectations.

I want to start with the couple of “meh” things I found, with an addendum that even though these were “meh” things, I could easily forgive them.

Firstly, there were moments where the pacing got a little choppy.  There were POV pages within the same chapters and scene breaks weren’t as well defined as in some other books. This definitely threw me, and more than once I had to backtrack because I felt I missed something.  The other thing I didn’t love is the characters.  There was nothing extraordinary about Kallia, but if we’re talking Phantom, I never understood the hullaballoo around Christine Daae either, so there you go.  I didn’t dislike her… I just wasn’t invested.

But even if I wasn’t invested in one our protagonists, I was invested in competition and the world.  Where Dreams Descend has whispers of Caraval and The Night Circus, but if we’re comparing it to other books, fans of Amanda Foody will like this best.  It’s got the creepiness of Daughter of the Burning City (as well as the carnival vibes) while the city itself feels like a nod to New Reyes in her Ace of Shades trilogy.  Cursed carnivals are becoming a sort of small thing in YA fantasy, and I am absolutely here for more.

There are shades of sexism in Where Dreams Descend, making that one of the main themes of this book.  Angeles plays this beautifully, while Kallia blazing through the gross behavior with confidence and just a little scandal.  It was nice to see some characters band together, dismissing the idea that female magicians could not perform, and I’d certainly like to see more on this as the series continued.  Particularly, I loved Demarco and Aaros as allies, because it’s important, I think, to not create “us vs. them” situations when possible.

Speaking of Aaros.  I feel a bit cheated because I wanted to learn so much more about Aaros.  I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s a lot more to his characters beneath the surface.  He was inducted into the story so quickly and used sparingly and I want more.

I should also warn you that Where Dreams Descend ended on a cliffhanger.  Fortunately I have a very strong suspicion that the best is yet to come, and there’s the comfort of knowing that a second book is in progress already.

There are a lot of reasons to read Where Dreams Descend.  From the haunted history of the city to the mysterious deaths and afflictions, to the breathtaking magic, to the questionable relationships between characters.  There’s a little romance, but I never felt it overtook the story (yay!).  I didn’t rally expect much from this book and WOW it just blew me out of the water so if you’re on the fence, definitely take the leap, this is fabulous and I can’t wait for the rest of the story.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

5 Star Rating


Where Dreams Descend Stays On The Shelf

Oh, I am absolutely keeping my copy of Where Dreams Descend.

I can see myself rereading this book in a couple years, when I want proper magic and mystery.  I also read this one really quickly, so I’m sure I missed some bits.

The only reason I may unhaul Where Dreams Descend at this stage is to replace it, and that would be purely aesthetic.  The copy I received has a quality control issue where the paper used for the dust jacket with wrinkled and so there’s a white line across the dust jacket.  But that would be purely aesthetic, and if I was starting on replacing books for surface damage, that definitely wouldn’t be the first.


In Where Dreams Descend, Kallia provides the memory of warmth to a dress shop in order to pay for alterations – if you could give someone one of your memories, which one would you give away?  And to whom?  Would you give away a big memory, or something small, like a sensation?  Let me know in the comments!

Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Bloglovin’ | LibraryThingThe StoryGraph


Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 responses to “Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

  1. Ahhhhh I’m so glad you liked this one! It really was one of those books where it was just so obviously not perfect but yet I didn’t really care, because the good elements were just SO good, and I’m glad to see you felt the same 🙂 I’m desperate for the sequel now lol

    • Amber

      I did like it, and I’m totally okay with its lack of perfection. I don’t think books need to be/have EVEYRTHING as long as they make up for it in different ways, y’know? 😀 I’m glad you liked it too… I feel like not too many people have talked about this one. :/