'Ballad & Dagger' Book Club Readalong Day 4!

By: OwlCrate .

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

*Please note that we are taking a break over the weekend! I'll be back with days 5-7 starting on Monday! Apologies for the delay - 'twas a busy week!*

Just a reminder that this will be a SPOILER discussion for Chapters 19-25 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 continues...

Chapter 19:
Chela overheard her dad arranging to meet with Gerval later that morning, so it is decided that they will go and have a little listen to what they are discussing. They were planning to cause a distraction at the music studio where Gerval is staying in order to sneak in the back, but it turns out there is already a large crowd of people outside doing that for them.

Chapter 20:
They enter the studio and split up, Tams and Maza searching one area, Chela and Mateo another. They’re looking for any sort of information about what Gerval is up to or what he knows.

Mateo and Chela are looking around the sound booth when Gerval enters the studio, they quickly hide beneath and Mateo presses the button that allows them to hear what is happening in the studio. Gerval starts singing and playing the piano and something happens to Mateo, he feels like he becomes light and starts floating up, and doesn’t start to come back to himself until Gerval stops playing. Vedo received an urgent text from Gerval and has come to talk to him, surprised he is no longer meeting with Chela’s dad. Apparently the arrangement they had is no longer going through. Gerval seems adamant he needs to talk to Chela in person, thinking that something, although he doesn’t know what, is going to happen to her. That’s when the fire alarm goes off.

Chapter 21:
Turns out it was Tams and Maza who made the fire alarm go off, giving Mateo and Chela a way out. They found three of the old tomes that Anisette must have given to Gerval. Chela takes them to show to Tolo. Before Mateo goes after her, Tams reminds him that the bembé is at her house that night, and they will need to talk.

On the walk to Tolo’s Chela is lost in one of the books, stepping out into the street in front of a car. When Mateo grabs her to pull her out of the way she instinctively pulls her dagger on him. She admits to being unsettled about what they heard between Gerval and Veda as it seems like they know something about her that she does not.

Chapter 22:
At Tolo’s they go through the books. One of them seems to be music, but there are weird things about the songs. There are parts for a voice, but no lyrics, each song is written in a different color of ink, among other things. There also seems to be new pieces of paper that have been added to the back recently. The book Safiya has is a ledger dating back hundreds of years, and in the front they find an envelope stating that the person who receives the book is a representative of the pirate community. It also states that a war has recently ended, but will not truly be over until ‘Our Lord’ has risen. And his Rising will start when San Madrigal falls. It states there are many pieces to the Rising, some are in the ledger, others in other texts. And unless they are referring to a spirit from another tradition, Mateo just may be the last member of this weird sounding culty group.

It also states that the one who trapped ‘Our Lord’ must fall in order for the island to rise. Chela, the destroyer, says it is her and leaves the room in tears.

Chapter 23:
They let Chela go, and discover in the ledger that San Madrigal has been dealing in secret with colonizers and slavers for hundreds of years.

After a while Mateo leaves to get ready for the bembé, Tía Lucia wanting to join him. Aunt Miriam thanks him as they leave, saying it will help. But doesn’t say help with what.

At the bembé an old man asks Tía Lucia if she has told Mateo yet, but doesn’t specify WHAT she needs to tell him. And they both refuse to give him any answers.

Chapter 24:
At school the next day Chela isn’t in class, and Mateo receives a text from Vedo telling him to him behind Tolo’s club with Chela before the vote, for Chela’s own safety.

At the vote that evening both Chela and Gerval are absent. Tams and Mateo are playing the music, when it comes to Mateo to try to play some of the songs from the book. They sound awful, but with a word from Tams Mateo realizes they aren’t just nonsense, they’re a code! The first song refers to the Dutch East India Company, another to the United Fruit Company. Now they just need to compare the codes to the ledger. Problem is, it seems some of the pirates recognized the tunes.

The vote begins.


Chapter 25:
Tolo states his case, and the councilwoman states hers on behalf of Gerval, but it’s not until Chela’s dad stands up and states his support of Tolo that the votes sway in his favor. The councilwoman calls for an immediate revote in 20 minutes. Mateo receives a text from Safiya calling him to Tolo’s office.

Mateo reveals to everyone his discovery and they start cracking the code in the ledger. Mateo gets a text from Gerval asking him where he is. He goes out alone to confront Gerval, and he reveals that he knows everything that Mateo has just found out. He is also determined to keep the sordid history a secret. When Mateo disagrees with him, and refuses to back him, Gerval grabs Mateo and drags him inside, right up on the stage with him, demanding the second vote begin. Mateo makes eye contact with a very angry looking Chela.




  1. What do you think Tía Lucia is keeping from Mateo?
  2. What sort of deal do you think Chela's dad was going to make with Gerval? Why do you think he backed out?
  3. What do you think is going to happen to Chela?
  4. Who do you think is going to win the second round of voting?

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