'Ballad & Dagger' Book Club Readalong Days 5 & 6

By: OwlCrate . Photo By: @booksofazwei

Welcome back to the fifth (and sixth! Thank you for your patience) day of our book club readalong for OwlCrate's May book, Ballad & Dagger!

This will be a long one as it's two days in one!

Just a reminder that this will be a SPOILER discussion for Chapters 26-40 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 26:
Gerval speaks over the crowd, telling them that her family has been hiding Chela, who isn’t just the initiated child of Okanla, but Okanla reborn. He tells them all that Chela is the demon that destroyed San Madrigal, and with her death the island can again be raised. The vote this time goes to Gerval, but while Gerval is basking in his reveal and victory, Mateo grabs the mic and again calls for a revote.

Chapter 27:
Chaos erupts and with the mic Mateo tells everyone about San Madrigal’s sordid secret history. Gerval tries to claim he knew nothing about it, but that’s when Mateo hands Maza his phone to play the recording he took of Gerval revealing he did indeed know. There is outrage and with a nod from Gerval several bambarúto start attacking the crowd. The councilwoman invokes her emergency leadership powers and appoints Gerval as her successor to the Cabildo.

Part 4:

Chapter 28:
A week has passed since the night of the vote and Little Madrigal feels very different. No one is going out, there are no gatherings or parties, most people are keeping to themselves. At Mateo’s apartment he finally gets Tía Lucia to tell him what has been bothering her. She read in her shells that she will die.
Listening to the pirate radio there is a broadcast that Tolo is injured. Mateo knows he must go help, but doesn’t want to go alone.

He meets Rabbi Hidalgo on the corner, but he’s sprinting towards Mateo because he’s being chased by three bambarúto.

Chapter 29:
They run, and seeing no other option, Mateo leads them on to the train, doors closing in the bambarúto faces.

On the train they discuss Chela, the rabbi obviously unable to reveal where she is, but she’s okay. At the next stop they step off to leave the train and Rabbi Hidalgo says it’s time Mateo learned some of the secrets of Little Madrigal.

Chapter 30:
Rabbi Hidalgo reveals that he isn’t sure it was the storm that sank San Madrigal that killed his sister - she had many plots ongoing. He also tells Mateo that he believes Chela truly is the Destoyer, but doesn’t fully understand it. As they round the corner to Tolo’s club, five bambarúto are at the door.

Chapter 31:
The rabbi leads them through a series of tunnels that end up in the basement of Tolo’s club. It turns out that Si, his brother in law and Tolo’s father, owned the whole block. Rabbi Hidalgo cut ties with Si because of the business he ran, blood money, and in doing so also lost Tolo. But now it seems he may have his nephew back.

In the basement the rabbi reveals that his sister stole a bunch of sacred weapons from San Madrigal, which they are now looking at. An army of golems.

Chapter 32:
Tolo thinks he is having a heart attack, but when Mateo tries to help he realizes that Tolo isn’t dying, he’s panicking. Mateo asks why they haven’t used the army of golems, but neither the rabbi nor Tolo know how to activate him. Rabbi Hidalgo offers to escort Mateo home for his tía’s celebration.

Chapter 33:
As the rabbi walks him home they come across Arco and Vedo, telling them to get off the streets. The rabbi refuses, and just then they jump in a running car and drive right for them. Mateo pushed the rabbi out of the way. The car crashes into another car and Arco gets out and hits Rabbi Hidalgo over the head with a bat. Mateo tackles Arco in a rage, Arco’s skull hitting the curb with a crunch. Looking up, Mateo sees Vedo just walk away.

Chapter 34:
Mateo tries to save Arco, but it’s too late. Looking at the rabbi, he’s still breathing, so Mateo tries to help the passenger in the crashed car. It’s the grocer, Tantor. Although he seems dead, Mateo is able to bring him back. In a sort of rush Mateo again tries to help Arco, but he’s gone. The rabbi wrenches Mateo away from the body, saying they need to run. Their are four bambarúto.

Mateo explains to the rabbi what happened when they are safe in the tunnels, but doesn’t reveal it was he that killed Arco.

Chapter 35:
At home Mateo helps Tía Lucia prepare for the ocha birthday party. The guests arrive, filling the apartment with dance and laughter. Eventually the rabbi and Tolo also arrive, causing the celebration to stop, but before Tolo can start speaking, a song once again breaks out and Tolo starts to sing. Mateo embraces the music but feels something change in the air - opening his eyes he sees Chela, staring right at him.

Chapter 36:
Chela informs the crowd that Gerval and his supporters are hiding in Gerval’s recording studio, and tomorrow they will raid. The room is behind her, promising to help in any way they can. Chela asks Mateo if they can talk in private.

Chapter 37:
Up on the roof Chela and Mateo talk. She tells him that she thinks it’s true that to raise San Madrigal she will have to die. Mateo insists they must find another way. They agree for that night they will just…be.

Chapter 38:
Back downstairs Mateo, Chela, Tams and Maza help clean up after the celebration. The elders agree they must discuss their new found secret history soon. After Tía Lucia heads to bed, Chela and Mateo fall asleep on the couch.


Chapter 39:
Chela and Mateo share a dream, then wake together on the couch. He tells her all about what happened the previous day, including reviving Tantor and killing Arco. Chela seems to think that if Mateo could bring Tantor back, then maybe it would work on her as well.

Chapter 40:
The next morning they prepare for the raid, Chela’s plan being…no plan at all really. Kill some bambarúto, give herself up, get killed, San Madrigal rises, Mateo revives her. Boom, done.

They gather in front of Tolo’s club, a mass ready for war. But there’s something wrong, there’s no resistance at all. No one is putting up a fight. As the people get organized a shimmering form appears in the air, most people not noticing. It’s Tía Lucia.

Back at their apartment, Mateo finds the door kicked in, the apartment destroyed. Tía Lucia isn’t there, but he finds a dead man on the floor. Aunt Miriam tells him that they came and took her away.

Tía Lucia’s alter was also destroyed and Mateo picks up a picture of Galinka. On the back there is an entirely new picture, one of a very different Galinka causing destruction and chaos.

Mateo remembers the chai pendant that the rabbi gave him, on it is the word life. He knows what he has to do.


  1. Do you think Rabbi Hidalgo's sister is truly dead if he doesn't believe th storm killed her?
  2. How do you think they will be able to use the golem army?
  3. What do you think Mateo's plan is?
  4. What are you predictions for the final section of the book?

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