Although Kallia routinely dazzles audiences at Hellfire House, where she performs magic as a masked showgirl, the brown-skinned 17-year-old dreams of headlining her own act. After the Conquering Circus announces a contest in the city of Glorian to find their next star, she asks the House’s master—her mentor and benefactor, Jack—for permission to participate. Jack refuses, citing Kallia’s inexperience and Glorian’s danger. Undaunted, Kallia steals a horse and heads for the city, where she befriends charming thief Aaros, who assists with her audition. Several judges protest, claiming that stage magic is solely for men, but she secures a spot thanks to advocacy from ringmaster Erasmus Rayne and judge Daron Demarco, a roguish 18-year-old magician whose career was cut short by tragedy. When contestants start disappearing, Kallia’s detractors blame her; Kallia, however, fears that a vengeful Jack is responsible. Formidable female characters and spectacular set pieces mark this ambitious series launch from debut author Angeles. Sketchy worldbuilding and a soapy villain diminish drive, but the central puzzle and Kallia and Daron’s burgeoning romance provide sufficient tension to hold readers rapt. Ages 14–up. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Aug.)■
Gr 9 Up—Kallia, 17, is an enticing showgirl, a crowd favorite who uses her magic just enough to make the audience want more. Her powers are stronger than what she uses in her act, and as she grows in skill and confidence, she wants more. She longs to test her skills beyond Hellfire House, beyond the forest, in the mysterious city of Glorian. But Jack, the master of Hellfire House, won't let Kallia leave, and won't tell her why. Kallia escapes, and once in Glorian, finds herself in a magic competition as one of the few female magicians who can hold her own. With the help of the community she builds, her assistant, Aaros, and even the mysterious judge, Demarco, Kallia finds herself able to show her true power. She also becomes embroiled in an unseen force that's killing magicians and endangers them all. Angeles's deep commitment to world-building means that this debut novel has atmosphere galore. It's lush and amazing at every turn, with fire, smoke, mirrors, costumes, and more—but it comes at the expense of solid characterizations and plotting. VERDICT A beautifully diverse cast of characters that doesn't receive the same attention as the rich setting, but readers will be too distracted by the spectacle to care.—Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
In a world where men dominate the stage, Kallia is determined to win a magicians’ contest.
Kallia is the showgirl magician star at Hellfire House, descending each night from a chandelier and inspiring awe in patrons. It’s the only home she’s known; she was left in the cursed Dire Woods as a baby. Club master Jack favors her above all others and acts as her mentor. Despite this, Kallia feels called to Glorian, the city beyond the cursed woods surrounding them, where she’s learned of a competition for magicians. Jack won’t hear of it, but when Kallia discovers he has been lying to her, she can no longer stomach staying put. She arrives in a city that’s colder and less friendly than she’d imagined and barely makes it into the competition. Soon she’s a controversial star, wowing the audience and inspiring ire in the judges in equal measure. But as her confidence grows, so does her fear of Jack’s returning and taking all of it away. When horrible things begin to befall competitors, Kallia’s caught in the middle. Glorian is awash with stunning scenery and spectacle, and Kallia enchants as a flawed and fiery lead, armed with tricks and witty banter. As the romantic tension ratchets up, so deepen the mysteries. Readers will ache for the next installment. Most characters seem to be white; Kallia is brown skinned.
A lush, captivating blend of The Phantom of the Opera and fresh, new magic. (Fantasy. 14-adult)
Praise for Where Dreams Descend:
BOOKISH, "Asian Authors to Read in 2020"
BOOK RIOT, "8 of The Best Magical Cities in YA Books"
BUSINESS INSIDER, "The 33 best new books to read this spring - according to Goodreads"
BUSTLE, "23 Debut Books That Are Too Good To Ignore"
BUZZFEED, "29 YA Fantasy Books We Can't Wait To Read In 2020"
CULTURESS, "20 upcoming YA books we can’t wait to read in 2020"
EPIC READS, "26 YA Retellings That You Should Be Looking Forward to in 2020"
GOODREADS, "The 38 Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2020"
THE NERD DAILY, "The Most Anticipated 2020 Book Releases" and "20 SFF YA Debuts To Watch Out For In 2020"
POPSUGAR, "27 Exciting Debut Authors You Can Support During the Shutdowns"
ASIAN JOURNAL, "Anticipated 2020 book releases by Filipino & Fil-Am authors"
THE YOUNG FOLKS, "10 Spring 2020 Reads That Prove Books and Music Go Hand-In-Hand"
"A lush, captivating blend of The Phantom of the Opera and fresh, new magic. ...As the romantic tension ratchets up, so deepen the mysteries. Readers will ache for the next installment." - KIRKUS (Starred Review)
"Readers will find themselves quickly immersed in this quirky, well-paced tale of danger, adventure, and magic. The enigmatic ending reassures fans that the mysteries have answers that are yet to be discovered, and that there is more to come in the second part of this Kingdom of Cards duology. Give this to those who enjoyed Cole's Arcana Chronicles or Powell's Game of Triumphs twosome." - BOOKLIST
"Formidable female characters and spectacular set pieces mark this ambitious series launch from debut author Angeles." - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"This is an intricate love song between the book and the reader, one expertly composed by a phenomenal author. Not only does Janella Angeles seamlessly weave together a fantasy where illusions seem to have more power than reality itself, but she executes each scene with the grace of a dancer gliding across the stage." - The Nerd Daily
"Angeles’s deep commitment to world-building means that this debut novel has atmosphere galore. It’s lush and amazing at every turn, with fire, smoke, mirrors, costumes, and more." - SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Perfect for fans of Moulin Rouge and The Phantom of the Opera, Angeles' debut is spectacular, spectacular!" - BUZZFEED
"If you’re looking for a spectacle of a read, look no further than Where Dreams Descend, which is so atmospheric you will feel like your world is sparkling." - BITCH MEDIA, 25 YA Novels Feminists Should Read in 2020
"The perfect summer fantasy read." - POPSUGAR
"An absolute success... It met every expectation and more. This story was unbelievable and so much fun to read." - YA BOOKS CENTRAL
"Janella Angeles steals the 2020 show with her fiercely imagined debut starring larger than life characters, a dangerous world alive with magic, and a dizzying dose of grab-a-fainting-couch-and-swoon-away romance!" - Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves
"Where Dreams Descend is a glamorous dark gem of a tale, sparkling with romance, magic, and intrigue. Readers will be captivated by prima donna Kallia as the mystery is slowly unmasked. Bravissima!" - Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
“Lavish and opulent in a way that feels warmly familiar yet demands your attention. There are secrets upon secrets, a girl who’s boldly ambitious, and truly riveting stage magic. I didn’t want the show to stop.” - Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints
"Vibrant imagery, jaw-dropping set pieces, sizzling romantic tension, and unstoppable heroine Kallia bring this ambitious debut novel to spectacular life. Fans of Caraval and The Night Circus will be delighted!" - Claire Legrand, New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn
"[A] spellbinding melody of a book, and the true magic is how Angeles puts all the best parts of an enrapturing theatrical performance onto paper and ink. From the gripping twists in the first pages all the way to the final, heartbreaking crescendo, Where Dreams Descend will surge you to your feet in a standing ovation.” – Sara Raasch, New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy
Narrators Imani Jade Powers and Steve West team up to deliver an emotionally engrossing performance of this YA fantasy. In a city brimming with magic, a new headliner must be found through a competition of magical feats. The narrators do an excellent job portraying Kallia, Jack, and Daron’s individual personalities and character traits. Especially noteworthy is West’s delivery of Jack, whom he brings to life with a moody voice that enhances his enigmatic and seductive character. Powers captures the angst of the characters, allowing listeners to feel the tension as it builds throughout the story. West and Powers hook listeners from the first page. J.O. © AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine