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Review: Where Dreams Descend

Where Dreams Descend

Title: Where Dreams Descend
Author: Janella Angeles
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Count: 464
Published by: Wednesday Books
Date Published: August 2, 2020
You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org


Glorian, as the name suggests, was once a city of glamour and dreams. Now it is a relic of its former self with citizens who can’t seemingly remember what happened.

Enter Erasmus and his Conquering Circus as they present … Spectaculore! … a great competition to find the magician among magicians, a man among men, who will rise as the next star of the Conquering Circus!

The key players …

  • Kallia, a born magician and star. Desperate to escape her employment at Hellfire House and be known in her own right. Her only problem? She is a woman and therefore excluded from competing.

  • Jack, the inherited Master of Hellfire House, has taught Kallia all she knows.

  • Demarco, the renowned magician who abandoned the stage after tragedy, is now a judge in the competition.

As the competition for the next great magician continues, Glorian begins to reawaken, a sinister magic is roused, magicians begin to disappear, and no one appears to be telling the truth. The question isn’t just will Kallia make her dreams come true and become the greatest magician in all of Soltair, but will she even survive the competition?


I am a sucker for Carnival-themed stories, featuring any of the following: magicians, phantoms, icy streets, circuses, caramel popcorn, and tango-style-passionate love affairs. Where Dreams Descend delivers on them all!

This book had me riveted for the first 100 pages … and the tension between the two characters at the beginning?! Yes, please. Only three problems:

  1. I am not sure if there was supposed to be any tension here and maybe I was misreading the situation and maybe it slightly makes me a pervert for wanting or misreading that romantic tension?? And these are not questions I want to be warring with as a reader and …

  2. It was over so flipping fast and …

  3. I.Hate.Love.Triangles!! They never, ever pick the one I root for.

For me what started strong began to fizzle, or at least failed to continue to hold my attention with that “star-eyed gaze” I began with. The plot began to lag, dragging along through a pretty sluggish middle. I struggled at times to understand what was going on, because in order to create that whimsical, misty, swirling, chaotic world Kallia was experiencing, Janella Angeles writes, at times, very incompletely. While it understandably is a great tactic to create tension, the ambiguity, rather than weaving a spell, just had me befuddled. So much so that I had to cancel the audiobook in order to read it myself because I was constantly lost.

This had a big hill to climb in my Phantom of the Opera/The Night Circus obsessed heart, because I was always going to compare it back to these great titans of subject.

This has all the elements any Carnival-themed-loving girl would want, and while the story started out strong, for me, it failed to maintain the glitter and sparkle. I found the middle to flounder and the love interest that crackled on the earlier pages, really was only a fraction of the total book … and I’m still not sure if it was even supposed to be a love interest! While the ambiguous writing was a great tactic to further the elements of atmospheric tension, I often found myself lost in the incomplete thoughts of the characters. Still, Where Dreams Descend is a strong debut that delivers on inclusivity, a fiery heroine, and some likeable side characters  … An exciting beginning with a dramatic, suspenseful ending but unfortunately a middle that left me bored.

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