Title: Where Dreams Descend
Author: Janella Angeles
Series: Kingdom of Cards #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication date: August 25th, 2020
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.
“What more could you want that isn’t already here?”
More. More than a stage she owned only for a night. More than a mask without a name.
I cannot express how excited I was to read this book! It was one if my most anticipated releases of this year, and the premise sounded absolutely amazing and like something I would totally love. Turns out, I actually really enjoyed it and thought it was such an interesting first installment, and I cannot wait to see what happens in the sequel.
When I first heard this book was pitched as Phantom meets Moulin Rouge, I knew I had to pick it up. Not only I love that movie and the musical, but also I was so excited to see the take the author did to create this story, and how similar to those two things this was going to be. And I have to say, I understand why it was pitched that way, though in my opinion, it was a bit more loosely based that what I was expecting. However, I loved the plot of this book so much that I wasn’t let down by that discovery.
But even though the plot was really interesting and I was enjoying it, I think the strongest part of Where Dreams Descend was the characters. They were absolutely fantastic and for sure my favorite part of the entire book, and what stood out to me the most.
“The fools were trapped. Like wild game too tempted by the bait. Once you spent enough time in a city like that, it was rarely likely to let you out. Starving beast never indulged their prey with mercy. Not until they had their fill.”
Our main character Kallia was such a different protagonist from most of the fantasy books I’ve read before. Not only she was such a Slytherin, but also her motivations were a breath of fresh air, and because her personality was a bit more unique and her goals were something I did not expect, she resonated a lot with me. I think writing a protagonist who wants to shine and win a competition and become the best magician in the world gave such interesting under layers to that character, and she had a great evolution throughout the story.
Not only that, but also I really enjoyed her relationship with the other characters, but specially with Jack and Demarco. I think Jack and Kallia’s relationship was so interesting and they had such unique dynamics. My only complain about that was that because we didn’t know much about Jack and it was purposely done by the author, their relationship was so mysterious and I would have liked to see more about the history between those two characters, because I didn’t really understand what it entailed.
However, one thing I really enjoyed was the romance. Not only it was slow burn and angsty, which are two things that I gravitate towards, but also I adored the chemistry between Kallia and Demarco shared on page. It didn’t overpowered the plot and everything that was going on, but still added a little bit of something that I really enjoyed.
I also think that the magic was super interesting. My only complain is that there weren’t a lot of explanations about how that magic worked or what its limitations were, and I don’t know if we’re going to discover more in the next installment or not, but that’s something that I would have liked to see and would have been pretty helpful for the reader to understand more the world and the characters.
“For in the world of magic, a woman’s place lies in the quiet shadows of labor magic, the encouraged path. The safer one. Because the ones who dare most often disappear.”
What I found pretty lacking was the world building. I understand that we didn’t learn a lot about it, because the entire book took place in one setting, so it was a little bit hard for us to discover more places, but it’s true that we didn’t know much more about that world apart from that town, but I still have high hopes that we’k know more about it in the sequel.
Overall, I really enjoyed Where Dreams Descend and think it was such a great first book in a series. I adored the characters and the relationships they formed throughout the story, and the plot had that mysterious element that kept me reading to know what was going to happen next.
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