Thank you to Wednesday Books for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Let me just say that no one is more disappointed than I am for not liking this book. When I first heard about it, especially with a comp title like The Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge, I immediately added this book to my TBR. So bless the book gods when I was sent an ARC! I planned on starting it way sooner, but then the pandemic hit and so many books’ publication dates were pushed back–this one included!
I got stuck in a bit of a mental rut and wanted to pick up a book I’d been eagerly looking forward to so Where Dreams Descend kept popping up in my head. The synopsis sounded magical and the cover is gorgeous! Sadly, this book was a complete letdown for me.
Title: Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1)
Author: Janella Angeles
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Expected release date: August 25, 2020
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 464 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “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“
First off, I wanted to say that the picture of the cover does not do the beauty of the cover itself justice. Even with the ARC, the cover sparkles and is absolutely gorgeous!
Now I was really coming off a The Phantom of the Opera high, so you may be able to imagine my utter delight when I dove into this book. The execution of this book was poorly done and left me just tossing the book on the table once I finished and going, “This is what I get?”
One of my main problems with the book is the lack of world-building. There is so much mystery around the city of Glorian but we really don’t understand why. The same goes for the characters and the magic. Yes, magic exists though not everyone has it, and magic is either acquired or you’re born with it. But again, I ask the question, “How?” How does one “acquire” magic in this world? And what difference is there between those that acquire it and those that are born with it? We also don’t quite understand what is happening in Glorian as the story progresses. We get snippets of other cities but I don’t feel like there’s enough to have a truly lush world.
I also assumed we would spend as much time with Jack as we do with Kallia and Demarco but that isn’t the case at all. He becomes, in some vein like the Phantom, a character with secrets. His connection with Kallia and hers to him is so…thin. Like am I supposed to care about the two of them and their fragile relationship? I’m fairly certain he gaslights her numerous times. However, I do like the use of mirrors as it does harken to what the Phantom does in the original novel.
As for Demarco… I’m not sure what to feel for him. I think I am just as confused as Kallia in the beginning. If the author meant for these two characters have romantic feelings for one another, it came off poorly. Yes, Demarco has secrets, too, as does Kallia (this whole book revolves around so many secrets) and when he finally confessed… I felt…nothing. Okay, well, I felt bad for Demarco and what happened. Seriously, the only thing that would make me want to read the second book is to find out what happened to make Glorian the way it is and what Demarco (and mirrors!) have to do with it.
Now… What to say about Kallia. I love how fierce she is, how she doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone’s opinion about her because this magical competition doesn’t like women competing and Kallia shoves all of it in their faces with her abilities. The people want her and it’s great! But she is also has this fragility about her that is tied with her relationship with Jack and it’s sad to see how she interacts with him sometimes.
Despite my two-star rating, I do see myself wanting to read the sequel simply because I was left with so many questions once I finished this book. It’s not high on my list, but I guess when that time comes…
There’s still time to submit pre-order receipts for an art print. You can do that here.