Where Dreams Descend: Kingdom of Cards, Book 1

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Where Dreams Descend: Kingdom of Cards, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Dramatic tale of female magician in dangerous competition.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fantasy meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Perseverance, communication, and trust are important themes. People may try to tear you down, but you shouldn't let that stop you from pursuing your dreams. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kallia is confident, ambitious, independent, never takes no for an answer. There are a handful of characters who support her dreams and want her to succeed.

Violence

Kallia has recurring nightmares and visions of someone trying to capture her, often feels watched or haunted by Jack. Characters fight, punch people. Several male magicians make comments about how there's no place for a female magician in the competition. One of the acts goes wrong, and when the mirror shatters, Kallia is cut by shards. Throughout the book, magicians mysteriously disappear, fall ill, have their eyes removed from their heads.

Sex

Characters flirt and kiss.

Language

Characters use variations of "s--t," "damn," "ass," "hell," "bastard," "idiot," and "bloody."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters get drunk. Mentions of whiskey, champagne, gin, and wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Where Dreams Descend is the first book in Janella Angeles' dramatic Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology about Kallia, a powerful magician who happens to be the only female participating in a dangerous competition. Kallia often has recurring nightmares of someone trying to capture her and often feels like she's being watched or haunted by Jack, her former teacher. Characters fight and punch people. Several male magicians make comments about how there's no place for a female magician in the competition. One of the magical acts goes awry, and Kallia is cut by the shards when the mirror shatters. Throughout the book, magicians mysteriously disappear, fall ill, and, in one instance, have their eyes removed. Characters flirt and kiss. Strong language includes variations of "s--t," "damn," "ass," "hell," "bastard," "idiot," and "bloody." Some characters get drunk, and there are mentions of whiskey, champagne, gin, and wine.

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What's the story?

WHERE DREAMS DESCEND follows Kallia, a powerful showgirl-turned-magician who escapes from Hellfire House, the club she performs at every night, after discovering that Jack, her teacher and the master of the club, has been lying to her. After making her way through the cursed Dire Woods to the icy and dangerous city of Glorian, Kallia joins a group of magicians in a daring competition for a chance to join the Conquering Circus. She may be the only female magician participating, but she's on a mission to prove she's the best. As the tasks become riskier and the magicians begin mysteriously vanishing, Kallia suspects that Jack is responsible, and fears that he'll force her to return to Hellfire House. Does Kallia have what it takes to win the competition and earn her freedom?

Is it any good?

This dramatic but slow-paced start to Janella Angeles' mysterious fantasy duology tackles sexism and highlights the importance of perseverance. Kallia is passionate, ambitious, and independent. She rises above the criticism from her fellow competitors and judges and refuses to let them win no matter how many times they try to set her up for failure. Angeles vividly describes Glorian and the Conquering Circus, but there are few details about the rest of this world or how magic operates in it. Readers will be left wondering why Glorian is a cursed city, and there's no explanation regarding the unseen force harming the magicians. While the ending is shocking, Where Dreams Descend predictably ends with a cliffhanger to set the scene for the sequel, which will hopefully answer all the questions to this mystery.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the magic in Where Dreams Descend. How does this novel compare with other magical stories?

  • How do the characters demonstrate perseverance, communication, and trust? Why are these important character strengths?

  • What do you think of the cliffhanger at the end? Will you read the next story in the series?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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