Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles (Kingdom of Cards #1)

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles // VBC Review

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1)
Janella Angeles
Published: Aug. 25, 2020 (Wednesday Books)
Purchase at: Amazon or Bookshop
Review Source: Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

Kallia has only ever known the gilded cage of the Hellfire House performing as a showgirl in the main attraction. Learning her magic from The Master, Jack, Kallia knows that there are secrets he doesn’t dare reveal. When word of Spectaculore—a magic contest taking place in the mysterious city of Glorian—reaches Hellfire House, Kallia is ready to seize her opportunity, and when she runs away ready to embrace her talents, Jack knows Kallia is not yet ready to face what’s waiting in the cold and shadows of a forgotten city.

A couple years ago The Daring Demarco was a rising star in the magical world, but a show gone wrong forced him to give up his magic and retreat into anonymity. Now, he’s found himself in Glorian as a judge for Spectaculore. His reasons for being in the city are his own, but there’s no escaping what’s lurking within.

Where Dreams Descend is one of those debuts that just sparkles. The tantalizing magic and the world it inhabits draws you right into the story. Kallia’s determination to break free of her gilded cage and seeing her embrace her talents on her own merit will keep readers glued to the page. The magic, as it’s presented, is dazzling and I always love when writers put some kind of competition in place in a story because I think it’s a great opportunity to highlight the magic of a world.

To me, the whole story is caught up in the idea of illusion. It’s completely true that things are not entirely as they seem. I liked the idea of the city of Glorian having a mysterious past, that no one talks about, that no one remembers, and I wanted to dig right in and get to the heart of it. This works as far as the times when Kallia is our narrator because there is so much of the outside world that she doesn’t know herself that readers get to learn it with her.

The book switches to Demarco’s point of view at times as well, and in contrast to Kallia’s, he’s someone who has grown up with magic, its laws and rules. It was both interesting to see Kallia through someone else’s eyes—seeing her confidence—and to get a kind of authoritative side to the magical world—which pretty much forbids women from performative magic. 

Where things falter, however, is the way the story dances around actually giving out any concrete information. There’s a vagueness about everything. Likened to smoke and mirrors if we’re keeping up the magical analogy. It’s difficult to know where you’re supposed to look if even Kallia—with whom the whole story revolves around—is kept in the dark about what’s really going on. There were some secondary characters and ideas that didn’t feel fully realized in a satisfying way. Especially the friendship Kallia forms with her assistant Aaros,

With that being said, I think this first book acts as a really good introduction and set up for what’s to come next. The strength of the ending makes me willing to put up with some unanswered questions, and withhold some judgements, because I’m really excited to see how things continue in part two of this duology.

 Sexual Content: Kissing

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