Where Dreams Descend Review by Janella Angeles
Relax. This isn’t going salty. Reviews that are middle of the road are always the hardest to write. For that reason, I’m going to do two things. First, I’m going to provide a summary of Janella Angeles’ debut. Second, at the end of this review, you will find links to additional reviews of Where Dreams Descend. I am going to provide a range of opinions. This way, I know you have the full summary and second, you will have other reviews to reference that represent a wide array of views.
I finished Where Dreams Descend a week ago now and have truly struggled with writing this review. You will see why. After finishing it, I went through and read some reviews and saw that there was a gamut of opinions. It wasn’t a love it or hate it thing. Reviews fell on the entire spectrum. So, I believe it is only fair to provide you with all the information, possible.
Lastly, and this is an important general note for my site. Ever since Your Words, My Ink tagged me in her review of the Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, along with other reviews, I really wanted to start doing the same. I thought this was a fantastic idea. It gives everyone a chance to get different perspectives on the title I review and lift up other websites. I’ve seen how amazing it is with the buddy reads. So, I thought this would be a fantastic way to authentically, and naturally integrate a way to engage and lift up the community.
Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles- Summary
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
Aye. I don’t even know. When I heard about Janella Angeles’ debut I was hooked. The plot was unique. The characters had me at a go, and magical showdown in a city going down in
flames ice? Did I mention those very same characters all sounded morally grey and running from unseemly secrets? HOT DAMN!
I was anticipating all of it. And it was all there. But only on the surface, but we’ll get there.
How about the good I didn’t anticipate? I didn’t know what to expect from Jannella Angeles, as far as writing style. Where Dreams Descend was her debut novel, after all. Let me say very clearly that I absolutely loved it.
The warmest of light surrounded her, like a cloud. A noiseless halo circling and doming around her body like a mist. The glass that would’ve struck her fell off to the sides, plinking onto the stage away from her.
Make no mistake. Once this duology is done, I will definitely keep an eye on her future work and want to read more of her future work. This just ain’t it.
Angeles also nails themes around the representation of women’s place in society.
The disappearance of female magicians throughout the years is an ugliness that cannot be ignored, though others might try. Is this foul play by coincidence, or competition? The pattern is undeniable. The silence is deafening. In a world where men rule the stage of magic, it’s been a public secret that any woman who dares rarely makes it into the spotlight. It is also an undeniable truth that the more others try to extinguish a flame, the greater its power must be. Why else destroy light if not envious of its radiance? Such speculation is not popular opinion, and thus, regarded as rumor. For in the world of magic, a woman’s place lies in the quiet shadows of labor magic, the encouraged path. The safer one.
Look at the bolded, second half of the quote above. Kallia embodies everything in that quote and Angeles writes her to hold it from beginning to end magnificently. She does not accept the gilded cage that others would keep her confined to, through fear tactics. Kallia is constantly told that while she is gifted beyond compare, there are dangers that would swallow her whole.
Thank you to Wednesday Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Kallia will not accept these limitations and finally sets off on her own. There is no fairytale outside the only home she’s ever known. As Kallia finds her truth, it isn’t in perfection, constant unwavering strength and or a straight line to success. There are moments of self-doubt, immeasurable obstacles, and the unknown. However, whether she wins or loses, finds truth, or lies, Kallia will do it on her terms. Her magic will not protect her, it might even cost her, and she is willing to pay it.
Could I have had one character section? Yes. But Jack doesn’t deserve to be near Kallia.
Jack, however, is the exact opposite. And I don’t mean as a male archetype. As much as I loved Kallia’s character, her role in Where Dreams Descend, and how Janella Angeles wrote her, Jack was the polar opposite. My downturn with Where Dreams Descend, started with Jack, in fact. His penchant for popping in and out of an island that everyone else can go to, but can’t leave was aggravating in itself. Layer that with him doing it at random moments to tell Kallia to come back with him, for no good reason. Well, wait… until she starts hanging out Demarco, and then it’s because Demarco is dangerous. Of course, he can’t tell her why, but JUST TRUST ME.
OH, SHUT UP YOU ANNOYING GIT. He was the most aggravating, condescending character and I’m sorry, but I just don’t think he was well-written, well-utilized, or well had any place in the story that made sense. If this was supposed to be some kind of love triangle? It was the most bizarre love triangle ever and it didn’t even make sense, because he was never even there, except to just pop in and out like a hobgoblin.
I loved the magic system. It was unique and interesting and thorough. It wasn’t haphazard nor was it anything like I’ve read before. But here is where it ran into problems. Execution. When you through it into the rest of the plot, it didn’t fully come to fruition. When I read, “competition of magical feats,” I guess I pictured World of Dance, magic style. Plus, there were comps to Moulin Rouge. And there even was dance elements! But. No.
Just a little Neyo in my life
For one, it is hard to get any kind of competition feel when you only ever experience Kallia’s performance. Second, she is so much better than they are and that isn’t a spoiler. It is a giveaway and obvious. Even before she even gets to the island, it is heavily played up that she is a gifted magician beyond what has been seen in a long time. I did love her showmanship and the flair she put into each performance but really thought the competition potential was missed out. Her “competitors” weren’t secondary characters to the story. We didn’t learn anything about them. There wasn’t any behind the scenes intrigue. I wanted all of it. There was none.
The island. It was just so inconsistently built. Rules… fantasy worlds still need rules. Again. Everyone can go but no one can leave. Except for Jack, and mail. Jack can pop in and out. Mail somehow gets in and out? It was just really vague in some parts and then overly consistent and others. Towards the end, I felt like big things were thrown in out of nowhere but there wasn’t any context. Maybe there will be in the second book? But then leave it for the second book and there is more room for the above?
Where Dreams Descend Review/Wrap-Up
Where Dreams Descend is Janella Angeles’ debut and there were parts that were really strong. She is definitely an author to look for in the future. However, there were too many pieces that missed the mark for me to continue with the series or recommend the book. However, there were many that loved it so YMMV. And as promised here are some other reviews of Where Dreams Descend:
Lili’s Blissful Pages – 3.5 Stars
One Book More – 5 Stars