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"Where Dreams Descend" | Reviewed by Haley Calvin

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

“Where Dreams Descend: A Novel," by Janella Angeles, is full of show-stopping magic, fun characters and an unsolved mystery, and I was all there for it.

Kallia is a showgirl magician working for Hellfire House, a mysterious club in the woods under a mysterious owner, Jack. The pair has undeniable chemistry but Kallia craves more.

She escapes to join Spectaculore, a competition in a nearby town. While being the only woman competing, not only does she have to deal with her fellow male contestants but another force begins to rear its head causing havoc and raising questions during the competition.

This was such a fun read! It was magical and sultry and gripping until the last page. I finished the book with lots of questions so I’m excited for it to wrap up in the second book.

I found Angeles’ writing to be easy to read and concise. Her narrative was to the point and easy to understand but hauntingly beautiful at times. I loved the imagery she created and the tone she set up at the very beginning. I wish she had described the characters a little more because she had me grasping at straws and having a hard time imagining them.

There were times when the pacing did get slow and a tad boring but it was essential to the overall plot so I was totally fine with it. I did wish, though, that there had been more performances and more of the competition than there actually was.

The characters were super interesting and complex. I found Kallia to be quite charming and quick-witted, a perfect strong, female lead. I loved Jack and how he had an air of mystery surrounding him. Kallia’s assistant, Aaros, was a great friend-character and I wished we had had more time with him.

Out of all the characters I found Daron, Kallia’s mentor and judge of the competition, to be a little boring and vanilla, not that interesting of a character but here’s hoping he can redeem himself in the second book.

The romance was most lack-luster part of this entire book. Kallia ended up with the one I personally didn’t like. There wasn’t that much chemistry and there wasn’t enough build or interaction between the characters for it to be rewarding. I wanted her to get with someone else, that would have made sense. Kallia and the other interest had the past and whenever they were on page together, you couldn’t deny the chemistry they shared.

I also wanted more world building and an explanation of what magic is and where it comes from. I understand that the narrator is unreliable, hasn’t ever been outside the Hellfire House, but I wished there would have been more explanation.

I did love how fun, dark, and sultry this book is and I hope the second continues with this atmospheric theme. This was a strong debut and I highly recommend it if you liked “Moulin Rouge!” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”

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