A cutthroat competition in a world of mages! Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles is a delight to read, merging magic with social issues to produce a dazzling result. As the first part of the Kingdom of Cards duology, it promises much.
The story follows Kallia, a powerful showgirl who escapes her overprotective guardian to prove herself in a male-dominated magician’s competition in the city of Glorian. There, her skill and heart are challenged, while the competition takes a mysterious and dangerous turn, claiming and maiming its participants.
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Originality is difficult to find in high fantasy nowadays, but Where Dreams Descend does a good job. You’re immersed in a world where normal people and those gifted with magic coexist harmoniously—more or less. Magicians, whether taught magic or born with it, can put it to practical use or become performers.
Unfortunately, women don’t enjoy the same freedom of choice as men, an issue that adds depth to the spectacular elements of the book. At the same time, something sinister starts brewing under the surface of this strange city.
Compelling Female Protagonist
Kallia bulls her way into the competition, stealing the public’s heart and souring the faces of her critics. In short, she’s a very impressive and sympathetic protagonist as she fights for every step through the event, hiding any insecurity behind sharp wit and glamour.
However, she’s not the only interesting character in Where Dreams Descend. It’s actually a menagerie of personalities that make up much of the plot’s flamboyant and suspenseful nature. I only wish we’d got to know more about Kallia’s competitors and their performances.
Showmanship With Many Twists
The point of Where Dreams Descend is the spectacle. While the risks and wow factor go higher and higher for all performers, it’s Kallia’s acts that grab your attention, laced as they are with her grace, ferocity, and hunger for the top.
As events take a turn for the worst, so does the show, testing its acts and relationships. There’s no choice, however, but to let it go on. Too late does Kallia discover that she traded one cage for another made of secrets, shadows, and reflections.
Where Dreams Descend is a highly entertaining read about magic, romance, and dark mystery. Fans of The Night Circus and Phantom of the Opera will enjoy it the most. I do look forward to seeing where the second part of the series takes us.
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