Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Posted September 22, 2020 by Sophia

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Wow, I’m surprised I know how to write a review still. Hi friends! I hope you’re all eating regularly and drinking water in these circumstances.

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Where Dreams Descend by Janella AngelesWhere Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
Kingdom of Cards #1
Published by Wednesday Books on August 25, 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC, Physical
Source: Publisher

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.

A copy of the book was provided for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore does not affect the opinion or content of the review.

Where Dreams Descend is a hauntingly descriptive and beautifully written debut novel from Janella Angeles.

The moment I cracked open the book, I was pretty much a goner to the mystery and intrigue surrounding Hellfire House and Glorian, the city hosting a competition to find the next headliner for the Conquering Circus. (Plus murder??? People disappearing??? Sign me up, please.) Personally, the writing style took a bit for me to get used to, and depending on your preferences, Where Dreams Descend might not be up your alley.

There is a definite aura of mystery and lack of answers in regards to what’s going on with Glorian and Hellfire House, along with the world in general (especially the Patrons! Like, what is up with them?). Angeles keeps building the suspense up all the way until the end when the curtain for the first book closes, so it kind of feels the mystery is overpowering the book in a way. I am, however, giving the benefit of the doubt and hoping the lack of answers is with intention and will be revealed in the sequel.

Kallia’s daring ambition and confidence is one of my favorite things.

Kallia having to work twice as hard in a world and competition dominated by males hit home deep, my friends, and it shows. Kallia is absolutely daring and enjoys taking risks to show she’s the best from the moment we are introduced to her as she headlines the shows at Hellfire House. And she continues to do so when the auditions for the Conquering Circus and successfully make it in, flaunting the rules and finding loopholes. Most importantly, she doesn’t let herself be put down by others.

Not gonna lie, I could really use her confidence.

There are, unfortunately, a few issues I had with Where Dreams Descend.

As much as I enjoyed Angeles’ debut novel, there’s no denying there are a few issues as well. While I personally didn’t mind the lack of information (considering the sequel), I did feel there was too much lacking. We don’t know much about Glorian or Hellfire House, what the Patrons do or how they add up to the magic system; it’s all vague information with teaser-like snippets, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

The vagueness also extends to Jack, the keeper of Hellfire House and the master, and Demarco, the once magician who is a judge in the competition. I would’ve loved to see more about their pasts rather than most of the spotlight be on Kallia; to be honest, she’s probably the only character that will stick with me from Where Dreams Descend by the time the sequel comes out. And well, maybe Lottie.

I’ve already forgotten most of the side characters.

The slow-burn romance was great, but not necessary, especially considering the lack of information currently on Demarco. Personally, I feel it was thrown in there for the sake of having a romance, whereas if the romance was in the sequel I would probably complain less if even.


Where Dreams Descend is a relatively solid start to a duology that is dark and atmospheric with an ambitious female lead, but not enough information about the world and the characters.

where dreams descend janella angeles pin

Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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5 responses to “Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

  1. Great review, Soph, you DO remember how to write them! a++

    I am glad you enjoyed it enough to give the sequel a shot. I agree that the pacing is a little slow at the beginning, it didn’t bother me because I was in the *right mood* for the atmospheric writing and loved the characters. The mystery aspects kept me glued to my seat, but I do wish we had learned more about Glorian. But I am excited for the sequel!

  2. I got this from a recent Owlcrate box and I’m not 100% sure I’ll enjoy it. I’ll try to keep in mind that it might answer more things in book 2. Unfortunate the romance felt so unnecessary. I love a good romance, but not if it doesn’t seem fully fleshed out. Great review! Thanks for sharing 🙂