Posted in Book Review

Why I DNF Where Dreams Descend


Published: August 25, 2020

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Format: e-Book

Pages: 464


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

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.


Where Dreams Descend is a book that I highly anticipated the moment I heard of it. Pitched as The Phantom of the Opera meets The Night Circus, I am already excited to read it. I loved The Phantom of the Opera and the atmospheric vibes of The Night Circus. So if you combine them, surely it would be good.

It makes me more excited as I read the synopsis of the book. It was promising and intriguing. But sadly, it falls in the category of books that do not deserve the hype.

There are two reasons why I DNF a book: the story does not click with me, or the main characters are unbearable. For this book, it is a combination of both.

Something about the story does not click with me. The plot was okay, but the more the story progress, the more it drags. There is nothing about the story or the characters that might hold the reader’s interest for long, in my opinion. The author hinted at the mystery and something more, but it gets repetitive over time. At some point, I was hoping that the author could just get it over with.

Moreover, the story is not as whimsical and magical as they said. I am looking forward to the competition hinted at the beginning of the story because I craved the magical atmosphere. But when we get into the actual competition, I lost it. I DNF it at about 40% of the book, right when the first part of the competition ended. I pushed through the annoying female protagonist because I keep telling myself that the story will get better.

The whole competition was a bluff. I was expecting the competition to be something magical after all the boasting from the other competitors. I get that they are fighting for a spot for this spectacular circus. But a levitation and pulling a rabbit out of a top hat? I don’t want to be rude, but it felt like the author lacks the imagination to make the atmosphere more magical. Either that or the magic system of the story was poorly developed. The best stunt that the characters could pull-off is fire, air, and manipulating one’s mind by a mirror. How magical.

That’s not all. I have never been so frustrated and annoyed by a character. I thought Vin from Mistborn was too much, but Kallia proved me wrong. To be honest, each plot felt like a stepping stone for the protagonist to show off how great she is. But is her magic that great? NO. Kallia felt like a stereotype of what a bad-ass protagonist should be. However, it does not work for her because she is her own antagonist. She says one thing, then does the other. I also read in some reviews that there are sexist characters here and there. Yes, there are. But sometimes, those sexist scenes are more of Kallia’s thoughts than having an actual sexist twist in the story. For example, in the first round of the competition, the judges gave her a score of 1. And Kallia thinks that they did not like her, and they wanted her out of the game. But is it really because they were sexist? (Read on if you wanted to know more.) 


“That girl though… using circus folk? All the dancing nonsense?” 

That is a quote from one of the many gentlemen whom Kallia assumes hated her because there is no place for a woman in the competition. But here is the thing, the first round of the competition is about showing off your magic by making use of the props, which is a glass of water, a black round stool, and a dusty old top hat. What did Kallia do? She drank the water and broke the glass to make music. How clever. She placed the top hat in her head, that’s it. The only props that she used is the stool as she makes it look like stairs. It was in front of her foot whenever she took a step. Other than that, she does not use the props at all. What she did is call the people in the circus to dance along to her tune. And she show off some fire because apparently, that is all she was good at. The judges who dislike her gave her a score of 1. Who wouldn’t? If that is an exam, she would have failed for not following the instruction. And the props are a surprise to the contestant. However, she already asked those people in the circus to back her up even before the show. So it shows that whatever the props would be, she would disregard it and do things her way.

I am not one for writing a review whenever I DNF a book, but I have so much frustration with this book that I need to vent it out. I wanted to love it, but it was so disappointing. The plot was underdeveloped. The main characters do not have any characteristics that could distinguish them from other fictional characters. And the execution of the concept was lacking. It sounds promising, but it lacks the execution.

That is all for my rant. If you love this book, good for you. But this is just not for me.

Until next time!



A reader who becomes a villain, a queen, a princess, a heroine, and a warrior depends on the story that she reads. A dreamer who wishes to dwell in the world that she visited through the pages of her book. A frustrated blogger who wishes to put into words the frustration, boredom, and excitement that she felt throughout her many journeys outside the real world.

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