Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Kingdom of Cards #1

This is one review I’ve been meaning to post for a LONG time – I met Janella in January and asked for three advance copies of her book so that I could buddy read it with two colleagues, who both finished it long before I did and absolutely loved it!

Synopsis

From the publisher marketing:
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.

Review

Where Dreams Descend was the first YA fantasy not written by one of my fab five that I felt compelled to pick up in many years. It hasn’t been that I no longer like YA fantasy, but it has become a very saturated market with a great deal of unoriginal stories and mediocre writing making it difficult to find the gems hiding in the quagmire. Where Dreams Descend is not, thankfully, unoriginal or mediocre.

Described as Phantom of the Opera meets Moulin Rouge meets The Night Circus, it is all of those things and more. Janella herself names Phantom as it’s primary inspiration, with the elusive club owner Jack fulfilling the role of Phantom, but with a great deal more nuance to his character. Kallia, our protagonist, is an exceptionally fierce young woman who doesn’t particularly line up with any one character in her three comps, and for that I am most grateful. And Demarco embodies some of my favorite aspects of Marco in The Night Circus.

While those three are the main featured characters, there are so many wonderfully created secondary characters that you just cannot help but fall in love with. The people populating the Kingdom of Cards are all magnificently realized, as is the world the inhabit. Janella’s writing is incredibly atmospheric and enthralling – you can’t help but lose yourself in it as you follow Kallia from page to page.

In my role as bookseller, I had the great delight of getting to interview Janella and I’ve included the video here for anyone interested. She was such fun to talk with again and I, like so many others, cannot wait for the sequel!

Rating: 8 out of 10

Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon. Click the image below to add the book to your Goodreads TBR!

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