‘Last Canto of the Dead’ Review: A Heart-Pounding Sequel to ‘Ballad & Dagger’


Author Daniel José Older takes readers into one of the most vivid and detailed fictional worlds ever encountered in Last Canto of the Dead, the epic saga to Ballad & Dagger. The two immortals-turned-teenagers story continues as they are forced apart to wage two battles, one in the Caribbean and one in Brooklyn. Their powerful love stands unwavering as the duo is forced apart to face old enemies and new battles.

Older once again continues to bring the world of Mateo, Chela, and San Madrigal to life by raising the stakes even higher than Ballad & Dagger. By shifting the story from only Little Madrigal in Brooklyn to the island of San Madrigal, Older adds a new layer of mythological storytelling, immediately capturing the imagination. Mateo and Chela’s own love story also takes center stage, even as they spend much of the book apart. Older takes care to build the stakes within the relationship and ensures readers feel the pining and love for one another in both points of view. By splitting readers’ team between Mateo and Chela, Older impossibly ups the ante as they each wage their own battles. Mateo’s return to Brooklyn hinges on a mysterious prophecy, thus creating an even more compelling story. Mateo and Chela’s otherworldly connection is still felt, but they’re each determined to fight for their people in whatever way they can.

As often is the case in sequels, epic battle moments are a must. Older takes care never to have a battle scene simply for the sake of a battle scene, but rather ensures each has a purpose in hurdling our two heroes forward in the plot line. The pacing of the story builds quickly, and the book is a difficult one to put down once fully settled back into the world. The larger-than-life main characters combined with the poetic prose from Older create the feeling of falling into another world where anything is possible. The magic and mythology within Last Canto of the Dead is beautifully woven throughout the story and feels near tangible at times while reading.

Overall, Last Canto of the Dead is everything readers could hope for in a sequel. Epic battles, epic romance, and believable mythology that pulls you in the moment the pages touch your fingers. Last Canto of the Dead will be available everywhere beginning May 16.

Brianna works full time in the publishing industry, passionately building books to bring to the masses. Her first fandom was Harry Potter, which she joined at age 11. Her love for books took her abroad to earn her Masters Degree at University College London, after which she lived in New York City, and now resides in Austin. She loves all things fandom including Supernatural, Doctor Who, and more. Ever the introvert, she can usually be found reading, playing with her dog, listening to music and practicing yoga. Brianna joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2018 where she unites her love for all things "nerd" with her passion for writing. Find her on Twitter here: @bookbag09

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