Writing has always been my happy place.
Truly, there’s nothing I love more than popping in my headphones and settling in for a great writing session. There’s just something about tuning the rest of the world out and retreating into a world of your own imagination. And for me that absolutely has to involve the perfect reading soundtrack to go with it.
You all loved my Chaos Looming reading soundtrack (check it out here), so as promised, here’s my soundtrack to The Cantor, prequel to the YA Fantasy Adventure Chaos Looming. And if this playlist has you feeling inspired, get your free copy of The Cantor here!
I tried to avoid any major spoilers, but if you want to go in completely blind, feel free to just listen through the song list of this reading soundtrack. Otherwise, check out my chapter/song list and descriptions below and let me know your thoughts!
Chapter One - Trees, by The Oh Hellos
The adventure begins! We first meet Danny and Nazor and get a peak into their life on the farm just outside Abalás. Of course they have no idea that they’re about to get a surprise visitor. I’ll listen to basically anything by The Oh Hellos, but this song in particular seemed like a great way to kick off this atypical origin story.
Hesitation stops us all
Oh, you’ll never know
Chapter Two - Bloodline, by James and the Wild Spirit
Keira wakes to find herself in a new and very different world than the one she left. But can she trust the strangers who seem to know more than they’re saying? The eery tone of Bloodline really captures the sense of confusion and yet odd familiarity she feels upon first arriving in Loren.
In your eyes I see my bloodline, your heart’s on fire
Breathing in for the first time
Your lungs fill up with all the love
Of heart’s desire, this heart’s on fire
Chapter Three - I Followed Fires, by Matthew and the Atlas
Keira gets a fuller look at her new home and is confused and terrified by what she finds. Has she really lost everything and everyone she cared about? I Followed Fires really captures Keira’s desperation to make it to higher ground, and fight back the reality she refuses to accept.
Warm my heavy hands, my heavy hands for you to hold.
There’s a devil at your door,
And he grows, he grows
Chapter Four - Kathy's Song, by The Secret Sisters (originally Simon & Garfunkel)
Acceptance is a big theme of this chapter as Keira learns more about the Legion and pneumonancy. But there’s excitement too and the thrill of a new challenge yet to be unearthed. I love The Secret Sisters’ rendition of this old Simon & Garfunkel song. It really captures Keira’s pain as she realizes all she’s lost.
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you
Chapter Five - Featherstone, by The Paper Kites
The odd discoveries continue, but Keira’s finished being passive. She’s determined to figure out where she fits in all this. Luckily, her new friends are more than willing to help her. Featherstone really captures the desire to move forward even amidst the tether of guilt that still holds you back.
She went out and got lost in a tall hedge maze
Where’d you go? Where’d you go? Why’d you leave this place?
Chapter Six - YOUTH, by Troye Sivan
Keira gets to know Danny, but isn’t quite ready to trust him yet. But the arrival of a new and far less patient mentor has Keira on edge. A bit of a genre change here, but YOUTH by Troye Sivan really captures Keira’s budding excitement over all there is to discover in this new world. And after all, she’s about to spend the next few centuries forever young.
My youth is yours
Runaway now and forevermore
My youth is yours
A truth so loud you can’t ignore
Chapter Seven - You Never Know, by Anthem Academy (feat. Julie Hardy)
The realities of training and martial combat set in and Keira is left reeling. Does she have what it takes to survive in this new life? You Never Know conveys the spirit of this chapter, excitement mixed with trepidation but with a determination to see this through.
So many roads could take us home
‘Cause you never know
Chapter Eight - Renaissance, by Paolo Buonvino and Skin
Keira takes things into her own hands. But is she ready to face the consequences of her actions? I adore the theme song from the tv show Medici, and in its soaring chorus I hear Keira’s determination to build a life for herself in this new world – no matter what.
In my bones there’s dignity
I will fight them
I can’t say that I can change the world
But if you let me
I can change a world for us
Chapter Nine - All that Matters, by Christina Perri
Overwhelmed and humiliated, Keira is ready to give up on ever belonging in this world. But the kind offer of a friend may just bring her back from the edge. All that Matters is a beautiful song from the musical Finding Neverland that talks about the beauty and power of friendships to overcome even the worst of adversity. I really felt that spirit echoed in this chapter.
Is where we go from here
There’s an easier way if we live for today
To find that all we are is all that matters.
Chapter Ten - Dorian, by Agnes Obel
The deeper mysteries of Pneumos are revealed and Keira begins to see that there is far more to this world than first meets the eye. This is Keira’s first peek behind the curtain of the Legion’s mysteries in Loren. Agnes Obel’s haunting Dorian perfectly captures the mood of this chapter.
And the pieces broke and the people wanted more
And the rugged wheel is turning another round
Chapter Eleven - Are You Ready, by Distant Cousins
Keira is ready at last to take on the challenges of pneumonancy. But when old wounds rise to the surface, Keira must decide how much she’s willing to let others in. While she may be ready to fly on her own, she’ll need the help of others to keep her afloat.
Oh, against the wind
Tonight the sky is calling
Are you ready
Are you ready
To fly on your own
Chapter Twelve - Highwomen, by The Highwomen
Comfort is offered from an unexpected source and Keira finally understands what it is they’re up against. Meanwhile, the rising threat of chaos finally touches the little farm. I just love this beautiful rendition of Highwomen and I hear Nazor’s pain echoed in its lines, but also her strength. I think this is a great song to end on because its lines remind me of the Legion’s mantra – that death is never the end, but just the beginning of another journey. And that their purpose remains.
It may return to us as tiny drops of rain
But we will still remain