Where Dreams Descend – Janella Angeles

Never come to  Hellfire House without wearing a mask.

Moulin Rouge + The Night Circus + Something Wicked This Way Comes
This is the best way I know how to describe the thrilling, eery, and romantic debut by Janella Angeles. Our story begins in a secluded corner of the woods in an exclusive club called, Hellfire House. To be sure, men come to the House to gamble and drink without fear of their wives hearing about it, but what they really come for is her. Taken in by, Jack the head of the House as a child (and having no memories of the world outside of the House), Kallia is desperate to find out if her magic is strong enough to break out from Jack’s hold. When Glorian , a city she’s only heard whispers of, announces a grand competition that will host the greatest magicians in the world, Kallia see’s her chance. It doesn’t matter that women are forbidden from taking the stage alone or that she has nothing but a scrap of paper to guide her, because life simply can’t stay this way forever.
So, she runs.

Tired of your typical fantasy where magic makes everything shiny and the girl works tirelessly to wield said magic to impress a brooding, mystical, handsome boy?
Okay, so there is some brooding. If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, you know what it’s like to be disappointed by magical systems that bare a suspicious resemblance to Lord of the Rings, magical schools that seem a lot like Hogwarts, and magical creatures that have the same lore as every other book with vampires, werewolves, or [insert non-human character here]. It’s easy to get…burnt out.

Where Dreams Descend is not a knock-off.
It’s not trying to be anything but what it is: A story about a girl desperately trying to find her place in a world that just so happens to have magic in it. I love that Kallia is a morally gray character and that her worldview seeps through every single page. As a reader, there’s nothing like getting to experience the confusion and longing and defiance that fuels a character to discover their true nature. Combine this feeling with the fierceness of the magician’s competition, a diverse and hilarious cast of circus performers, politicians, and thieves, and you’ve got the start of something wonderful. The fact that there is a hint of romance was the cherry on top for me.

Still not sure if this one is for you? Consider this:
Where Dreams Descend captivates readers in the same way a concert pianists flood an audience’s mind with so many beautiful, delicate notes that they can’t seem to remember anything but the sounds dancing between their ears. Angeles’ cool, fluid writing has readers in a sort of trance by the third or fourth page and doesn’t let go until the very last sentence. Of course, then comes the hard part: waiting for book two!

If you enjoyed The Night Circus, The Magicians, or Diamond City, this book is for you!

Content Warnings:
Some violence, emotional abuse, life-threatening circumstances, and family feuds