Ballad & Dagger (Outlaw Saints #1)

Daniel José Older. Disney/Riordan, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-368-07082-9

Fifteen years after the free Caribbean island nation of San Madrigal sank into the sea during a hurricane, its peoples—pirates, Santeros, and Sefaradim—live in “what feels like a double diaspora,” Brooklyn’s neighborhood of Little Madrigal. Among them is aspiring musician Mateo Matisse, who has trouble finding his place in the community after spending years traveling with his doctor parents. During a celebration, he learns that he is an initiated child of the god Galanika, destined to channel the spirit’s healing power and—along with the initiates of the other two original spirits—help bring back the lost island. Initially resisting the role, Mateo must embrace it when Little Madrigal is rocked by violence and political infighting. Alongside quiet rabbi’s daughter Chela Hidalgo, initiate to the destroyer god Okanla, Mateo discovers San Madrigal’s buried history, and the two challenge their deepest understanding of their lost home. In this engrossing duology starter, the Riordan imprint’s first YA offering, Older (Flood City) explores themes of diaspora, colonialism, and identity via a vibrantly conceived, folklore-tinged urban fantasy that never loses sight of its immediate human elements, including a strong sense of community and blossoming attraction between its 16-year-old protagonists. Ages 12–up. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary. (May)
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