'Ballad & Dagger' Book Club Readalong Day 1!

By: OwlCrate . Photo By: @a.o.tales

Welcome to the first day of our book club readalong for OwlCrate's May book, Ballad & Dagger!

Just a reminder that this will be a SPOILER discussion for Chapters 1-4 of Ballad & Dagger, so make sure you read are finished this section before continuing.

Discussion questions are listed below, and anyone who participates in the comments will be entered to win a free OwlCrate box! Don't forget, you can also post about the readalong on Instagram with the hashtag #OCBalladandDagger for another chance to win!

The story begins...

Chapter 1:
Centuries ago a pirate, a rabbi and a Santero watched the island of San Madrigal emerge from the sea and settled there, but 15 years ago the island again sank beneath the waves, leaving the residents to settle in a corner of Brooklyn now called Little Madrigal.

Mateo is getting ready for a fete in Little Madrigal in the apartment he lives in with his two aunts…one living, one dead. His (living) aunt tells him to go on without her, but as he approaches the club he sees Trucks, the famous San Madrigaleros musician Gerval’s right hand man. Mateo hopes to impress Gerval with his skill on the keys tonight, but before that can come into fruition a girl Mateo’s age appears, Chela, and straight up murders Trucks right before his eyes. Between them a figure appears in blue light, looking like Death himself, before once again vanishing with a flash.

Chapter 2:
With Chela gone it is just Mateo and the now dead Truck, but moments later a black SUV drives up, takes the body, and disappears. Not knowing what else to do, Mateo heads to the club. He sees Tolo (the person who runs the club and soon to be the Cabildo pirate rep on the San Madrigaleros leadership council) and Gerval getting into it over something. Mateo’s best friend, and rare person he is comfortable around, Tams, find him and together they head to the stage where Mateo sits at the piano and Tams the drums. They hold a ceremony reciting the names of the muertos who appear one by one, slightly translucent forms who normally act with quiet reverence but are now nervously glancing around. As they disappear Asinette, the current pirate rep, announces that big change is coming.

They have started raising San Madrigal, but in order to finish and fulfill the prophecy they need the three initiated children of the original spirits of the island. And they are all in the room. And one of them is Mateo.

Chapter 3:
Mateo retreats outside to the curb, overwhelmed by the attention. The very much unwanted attention. He doesn't know what it means but it sure isn’t appreciated. He told Tams not to follow him and he sits on the curb right where he witnessed Trucks be murdered shortly before. He feels a hand on his back, but to his surprise it isn’t Tams, it’s Chela, who kindly promises not to kill him. She comforts him, but before she can explain what happened with Trucks Tía Lucia arrives. After Mateo confronts her about his identity she reveals they tried to tell him but he never wanted to listen, so they eventually gave up. He is the initiated child of Galinka, spirit of healing, and it is his destiny to be a healer as well, like it or not.

For some reason, a brawl between those in the club spills out into the streets. Uh oh.

Chapter 4:
The brawl turns incredibly violent and Tía Lucia enters in an attempt to break it up. Oddly, the cops show up. Years ago Anisette made a deal with the cops to keep them out of Little Madrigal, but for some reason they are around tonight. Their very presence unites the brawlers who stop fighting each other and turn their attention towards the police.

Once the crowd dissipates Mateo finds Tía Lucia unconscious on the ground. Not knowing what else to do, he tries to use his apparent healing powers to help her. It doesn’t work at first, but with the encouragement of Tams and comparing it in his mind to music, he is able to wake her. It worked.

All the while Chela has been waiting on the sidelines with the blade she killed Trucks with, not saying anything. Mateo manages to heal the rest of the injured and as he looks up he again sees the blue apparition appear. Galinka.


  1. Why do you think Mateo was so hesitant to know what he was?
  2. Who do you think the other two children of the prophecy are? Do you think we have met them yet?
  3. Why do you think Chela killed Trucks?
  4. Why are the police now showing up in Little Madrigal?
  5. Did you enjoy the first section of the book?

      Never miss a box! Subscribe to OwlCrate today with code OCBLOG15 to save 15% on a new subscription!