Ballad & Dagger

Disney-Hyperion. (Outlaw Saints: Bk. 1). May 2022. 1,141p. $29.99. ISBN 9781368082440.
Gr 7 Up–Lee Osorio bestows Older’s newest series with an outstanding first volume—hopefully signaling further perfectly tuned duets. Once upon a time, the Caribbean island of San Madrigal was home to “that particularly wonderful mix of humanity...Sefaradim, Santeros, and pirates” as well as Indigenous peoples, European Jews, and freed West Africans. But the island sunk during a hurricane, scattering its inhabitants to Brooklyn. Fifteen years later, high school junior and piano prodigy Mateo lives with two aunts (one corporeal, the other ghostly). His musical dreams get suddenly waylaid when, according to prophecy, he’s identified as one of “three initiated, fully awakened children of the original spirits” and the trio—when found—will raise and restore Madrigal. Alas, the vicious detractors can’t agree.
VERDICT Osorio is a powerhouse of diverse voices, good, bad, desperate, vile, amplified by his Latinx fluency.

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