5 Reasons I Loved Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older

Posted May 25, 2022 by Richetta in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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5 Reasons I Loved Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older

I received this book for free from Disney Books Rockstar Book Tours and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 Reasons I Loved Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José OlderBallad and Dagger (an Outlaw Saints Novel) by Daniel José Older
Narrator: Lee Osorio
Length: 11 hours 30 minutes
Published by Disney Press on May 23, 2022
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Action & Adventure / General, Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction / People & Places / United States / Hispanic & Latino
Pages: 384
Format: ARC, Audiobook, Hardcover
Source: Disney Books Rockstar Book Tours and NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Daniel José Older's music-and-magic-filled YA urban fantasy about two teens who discover each other and their powers during a political battle within a unique diaspora community.

"Brimming with mystery, mayhem, and heart, Ballad and Dagger gives us wondrous new magic steeped in deep traditions. It's a gorgeous romance, a wild adventure, and a powerful story that unravels not only the pain of diaspora, but the strength of community and the ways we provide refuge for one another."--Leigh Bardugo, New York Times #1 best-selling author of Shadow and Bone

"A new, magical world full of rich folklore and hitting all the right notes."--Kirkus Reviews

Almost sixteen years ago, Mateo Matisse's island homeland disappeared into the sea. Weary and hopeless, the survivors of San Madrigal's sinking escaped to New York.

While the rest of his tight-knit Brooklyn diaspora community dreams of someday finding a way back home, Mateo--now a high school junior and piano prodigy living with his two aunts (one who's alive, the other not so much)--is focused on one thing: getting the attention of locally-grown musical legend Gerval. Mateo finally gets his chance on the night of the Grand Fete, an annual party celebrating the blended culture of pirates, Cuban Santeros, and Sephardic Jews that created San Madrigal all those centuries ago.

But the evil that sank their island has finally caught up with them, and on the night of the celebration, Mateo's life is forever changed when he witnesses a brutal murder by a person he thought he knew.

Suddenly Mateo is thrust into an ancient battle that spans years and oceans. Deadly secrets are unraveled and Mateo awakens a power within himself--a power that not only links him to the killer but could also hold the key to unlocking the dark mystery behind his lost homeland.

From the author of the award-winning Shadowshaper Cypher series comes the first novel in the Outlaw Saints duology--a brilliant story that will transport readers to a world where magic, myth, and gods reign over the streets of Brooklyn.

Don't miss these other Rick Riordan Presents titles for all ages:

  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
  • Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Young Adult Book Review

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway! 

I had so much fun reading Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older! I did a combined reading experience of listening to the audiobook and reading the physical copy. The audiobook narrator, Lee Osorio, acted the voices wonderfully. He brought the characters alive. I also recommend it if you want to hear the pronunciation of the non-English words.

Reason #1: Multilingualism is Embraced

I loved the incorporation of Spanish in Shadowshaper, another book by Daniel Jose Older. So I was expecting to see it as part of the narrative for Ballad & Dagger. However, it was kicked up several notches because of the blend of cultures in San Madrigal. In San Madrigal, the people speak Spanish, Hebrew, Ladino and Lucumi. Older includes a glossary at the end of the book as a reference. The language of the characters makes the novel rich. I was also thankful that he tells you the dialect, for example, a lot of the Spanish is Cuban Spanish. Words have different meanings depending on the dialect.

Look It Up Hidden Figures Gif By Diversify Science Gif - Find & Share on GIPHY

I often encounter people who become intimidated when Spanish or a language other than English is featured prominently in a novel and I don’t really understand that. Use your context clues and Google! It’s just like when someone drops a $10 word that only gets used like twice a century in a book, you go look it up!

Reason #2: Colorful Cast of Characters

Oh my goodness, you had me at pirates! I loved the cast of characters in this book! They have big, awesome personalities and I rocked with them in this diaspora of theirs. Mateo is hilarious, Tia Lucia is a wild sage, Rabbi Hidalgo is so cool! I loved the banter between Mateo and Chela. Also, I loved the representation of Chela being a badass brown girl with glasses and red hair who has the power and strength to end you with her magical swords. For those of you looking for a book that features a Black or Brown boy without trauma, but full of an adventure…Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older is that book folks!

Pirates Curse GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
I love stories with pirates!

Reason #3: An Intriguing World

The survivors of San Madrigal, a now-sunken island in the Caribbean, live in a diaspora located in Brooklyn, New York. They are a culture that includes pirates, Santeros, and Sefaradim. It’s a world filled with music, ghosts/muertos and an interesting political structure that is in place to keep the peace between the three groups. And what I found super interesting…cops and guns aren’t allowed in Little Madrigal!

Happy Big Brother GIF by MOODMAN - Find & Share on GIPHY
Mateo had some one-liners that had me falling out!

Reason #4: The Sense of Humor

Mateo Matisse is hilarious! That boy had me cracking up the entire book! “Dead people are a trip, man.” is a response to his Aunt Miriam, who is actually a spirit that lives with he and his Tia Lucia. Also when he says, “You mean Chela Murderface McDeathMurder Hidalgo?” I almost spit my drink out laughing!

Reason #5: Adventure & Mythology

I spent my whole childhood only having Greek mythology available to me to read. So now as an adult I have the chance to learn about African mythologies. This book is an adventure of a young man who discovers he is the son of Galanika and he is a healer. As the power balances shift and power exchanges from one generation to the next, the desire to resurrect the lost island of San Madrigal comes to a crest. Mateo must work to not only find out who he is, but he must uncover the plots of those who are up to no good. He must listen to and follow the advice of his Tia Lucia to always “Escucha.” and “All I can say is, get close to everyone but trust no one.”

Excited for the Next Book

I can’t wait for book #2 in this Outlaw Saints Novel series and to see what Mateo and Chela will be up to next! I am so glad Rick Riordan chose Daniel Jose Older to start the Young Adult novel section of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint.

Portrait of Daniel Jose Older

About Daniel José Older:

Daniel José Older is a New York Times best-selling author and story architect. He has published fourteen novels and numerous short stories and essays, and he is a regular comics writer for Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures and Marvel. He won the International Latino Book Award and has been a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, the Mythopoeic Award, the Locus Award, the Andre Norton Award, and the World Fantasy Award. You can find his thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic, and hear his music at http://danieljoseolder.net, as well as on YouTube, @djolder on Twitter, @danieljose1 on Instagram, and @danieljoseolder on TikTok. He and his family live in New Orleans.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Giveaway Details: 

1 winner will receive a finished copy of BALLAD & DAGGER, US Only.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

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5/5/2022@bujos_n_booksIG Review
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Week Two:

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5/12/2022@drewsim12IG Review/TikTok Post
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Week Three:

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Week Four:

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Week Five:

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