- Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
Angeles, Janella Where Dreams Descend. Wednesday/St. Martin's, 2020 [464p] (Kingdom of Cards) Trade ed. ISBN 9781250204356 $18.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781250204363 $9.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-12
Seventeen-year-old Kallia loves the spotlight and loves magic, so being the prime attraction at Hellfire House's nightly burlesque-like shows is a thrill. It's not enough, though: she wants to practice serious magic, competing with other magicians in an upcoming contest in Glorian, a city outside the cursed woods that surround Hellfire. Jack, the owner of the club, mentor to Kallia and perhaps something more, has forbidden her participation, but when she discovers a terrible betrayal, she flees, making her way to the city and auditioning for the competition. She makes the cut, mostly due to Demarco, an ex-performer and current judge who's intrigued by Kallia's past but keeping secrets of his own. Jack shows up, competitors go missing, and Kallia's powers become unwieldy, leading to a tragedy that might be linked to Demarco's past. Angeles offers up an opulent, enchanting tale with a fiercely bewitching lead and plenty of fantastical spectacle and romantic drama to keep readers starstruck. Kallia's magical performances dazzle as much as her fiery wit, and she's refreshingly unapologetic in her ambition, calling out the old boys' club of the magician world with biting accuracy. The links from an old magic to Demarco's tragedy, Jack's mysteries, and Kallia's powers are a bit scattered, but they will hopefully be pieced together in the promised sequel.