Review: Where Dreams Descend

When I first heard of this sumptuous tale and its comparison to Moulin Rouge, The Night Circus and The Phantom of the Opera, with a dash of Caraval too, I knew I had to have it in my life! Luckily for me, the amazing Meghan Harrington at Wednesday Books sent me an eARC and I quickly became obsessed.

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

TW: controlling behaviour, death, grief, gaslighting, sexism

My Thoughts:

Where Dreams Descend will cast a spell on you that entraps you within its deceptively beautiful pages, leaving you craving more long after the final page has passed. 

Angeles has crafted such a brilliant story here with a rich world and creative flourishes that add that sparkle, which serves to make it stand out from the crowd. While reading Where Dreams Descend, I could scarcely think of anything outside of Kallia’s story. Her voice was so distinctive and I quickly found myself rooting for her. I loved her ambition and drive; she was so unafraid to go after her dreams and that passion is infectious. Rarely do we get to see ambition as a desirable quality in women, but Kallia thrives on it. Also, her ownership of her sexuality and beauty was empowering to read. However, the world she inhabits is determined to crush her spirit at every turn. She is belittled and marginalised as a woman who dares to thrive in a male-dominated world. Angeles instantly sets the tone of this misogynists, sexist hierarchy from the first page, as well as introducing the disappearances of women that have mysteriously occurred for years. This is often swept under the carpet and the experiences of women are dismissed until they threaten the hierarchy. It reflects the extent of the marginalisation, as they are so insignificant and invisible that they simply vanish without a trace. 

This is just such a compelling and entrancing story, with a magical and mysterious atmosphere throughout that will keep you hooked. The intrigue is omnipresent, as more and more layers of the plot and overarching mystery are revealed. Like any good magician, Angeles uses her imaginative powers as sleight of hand, with vividly imagined magical displays and shows that are spectacles within themselves. In fact the entire world feels so tangible and real, with fantastic attention to detail allowing you to really immerse yourself in the story. Beyond the dreamy nature of some of the gorgeous writing lies the dark heart of the book. There’s such a tangled web of history, secrets and death to untangle and I really appreciated how Angeles gave us enough hints, but also left some tantalising plot threads open for the sequel. She expertly lays the groundwork for the expansive story yet to be completed while also ensuring that you get to know and love both the characters and the world they inhabit. 

A key theme of Where Dreams Descend centres around mirrors and illusion. I thought that this was such a clever way to play tricks on the reader, as you can’t always trust what is presented to you. This perfectly encapsulates the ideas of magic and the seedy underbelly beneath it in the book. In a world where presentation is everything, manipulation and distortion are key players. The power dynamics reflect this, as does the central theme of control. Angeles is a master at manipulating emotions and making you feel as though everything you know is constantly shifting. This makes for such an original and fascinating reading experience. 

Where Dreams Descend is an alluring and beguiling story with a world inside that’s as darkly beautiful as its stunning cover. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thank you again to Meghan Harrington and Wednesday Books for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I will continue to speak up about current events now and forever and to help, here are links to Carrds talking about many of the world’s current events and how you can help. Also, I’ve linked here the Black Lives Matter Carrd to support, but also here is a list of resources to aid Anti-Racism work in the UK, as well as UK specific places to donate to. I will be doing this on every post. If you have the funds to donate, please do but if not, please support and uplift Black voices and sign the petitions, including 10 UK specific petitions here.  

6 thoughts on “Review: Where Dreams Descend

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