Hi, it’s Sabrina and welcome to another instalment in Wordy and Whimsical’s Spooky October series! For today’s post, I’ve decided to put a Halloween spin on a post type we’ve done a few times on the blog – matching books to songs. I picked a whole bunch of songs (20, to be exact!) that I thought suited the Halloween season, sticking mostly to songs that sound creepy and haunting, but also adding a few that have Halloween-appropriate lyrics and titles. And of course, then I paired books with them! I’ve also made a Spotify playlist with all the songs, so you can listen along while you’re reading the post 😄🎧 Let’s go!
I DID SOMETHING BAD – TAYLOR SWIFT
“I can feel the flames on my skin
Crimson red paint on my lips
If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing
I don’t regret it one bit, ’cause he had it coming”
Of course I had to start this post with a Taylor Swift song! And it is easily one of my favourite songs from her – it’s so fun and different and it makes me feel tough, like I could take on anything. I picked Katie Lowe’s The Furies to go with it, because both have witchy vibes and righteous anger towards men, lol – as seen in the lyrics featured. I think this book is quite under-read and under-rated, and I partially blame that on its classification as YA on Goodreads – I definitely think this book is more adult. It’s a slow-burn, female-led dark academia that has stuck with me long after I read it, so I hope more people will enjoy it!
DO I WANNA KNOW? – ARCTIC MONKEYS
“Do I wanna know? If this feelin’ flows both ways?
Sad to see you go Was sorta hopin’ that you’d stay
Baby, we both know That the nights were mainly made
For sayin’ things that you can’t say tomorrow day”
This is one of the songs that inspired this post – I was listening to it in a Youtube playlist and was really struck by the atmosphere of it! The sound of it makes me think of dark alleys and walking through the city at night. The lyrics however, make me think of fake dating romances, so I chose A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole to match with it – I think it goes particularly well with the featured lyrics! This was the first adult romance novel that I truly fell in love with – there was so much to appreciate in this story, not just the romance between the main couple (which was adorable 🥺), but family dynamics and personal growth. I can’t recommend this series enough!
PREDICTABLE – YOU ME AT SIX
“You’re so predictable
Do what you always do
Crawl back to where you came from, from”
I read Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles a few months ago, and while I didn’t fall in love with it, I would definitely consider continuing with the series – plus, I think it is a great match for this song! The lyrics, in my opinion, really suit how Will feels about another of the main characters for much of the book – in fact, I felt that way about him for a lot of the book too, lol. Though the romance arc wasn’t my favourite, I did appreciate the cozy bookshop setting and the mystery elements.
NO BODY, NO CRIME – TAYLOR SWIFT
“I think he did it but I just can’t prove it
No, no body, no crime
But I ain’t letting up until the day I die”
Another Taylor Swift song (be prepared, there are more coming!) – and it’s one we have previously recommended books for, so this time I picked something different: Simone St. James’s The Sun Down Motel. This was one of my favourite books of last year, and for good reason. It was so exciting and mysterious that it kept my attention the whole way through. I also found it decently scary, so it would be a great read for the Halloween season! It’s not an exact match for the song, but I think the true crime aspects and the determination of the central character connect them.
BELLYACHE – BILLIE EILISH
“My V is for Vendetta
Thought that I’d feel better
But now I got a bellyache”
Sweetpea by C J Skuse is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and wow, what an interesting experience it was! It is from the perspective of a female serial killer struggling through her everyday life, pretending to be a normal, boring person. She hates it, and she hates most people too, which is darkly funny to read about. Of course, there’s much more to the story than that, but I don’t want to give anything away. I’ll just say that I think it fits this song, which I also think is pretty unique, fairly well!
GASOLINE – HALSEY
“You can’t wake up, this is not a dream
You’re part of a machine, you are not a human being
With your face all made up, living on a screen
Low on self-esteem, so you run on gasoline”
This song has some truly iconic lyrics – I remember seeing them all around the internet when it was first released – and I like the sound of it too, it reminds me of being underwater. My first instinct for the book to match was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but I thought I would choose something more underrated and ended up with Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh – a fantastic character-focused sci-fi. The book is about a bunch of older teens who are selected to go on a mission through space to reach Terra-Two – a planet to replace Earth – and how it affects each of them in different ways. I relate it to the song because they have been studying and training for this trip almost their entire lives – it does lead to fame (it’s even one character’s job to record messages to send back to Earth), but there are some… significant drawbacks… that the book explores.
COLD – AQUALUNG, LUCY SCHWARTZ
“What you are given (cold)
Can’t be forgotten (ooooh)
And never forsaken (cold)”
Unfortunately, I am outing myself as a fan of the Twilight soundtracks here, lol, because I believe this song was written specifically for the first Breaking Dawn movie! Despite that, this haunting track reminds me of Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge, a loose YA retelling of Red Riding Hood. Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I read this book so I don’t remember the details particularly well, but the lyrics still bring it to mind – and not just “crimson and bare as I stand”. The words I’ve selected above connect to the way the main character gains dark abilities but at a cost, and “their hearts are hunting, still hunts hope, ever and ever” fit because she needs to find something in order to save the realm and even when it seems hopeless, she keeps searching.
WIRES – THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
“You knew the game and played it
It kills to know that you have been defeated
I see the wires pulling while you’re breathing
You knew you had a reason”
I hadn’t actually listened to this song until it was suggested to me by Spotify when I was putting this playlist together! I instantly knew I had to add it. It seems to me that it’s about someone sacrificing independence for the promise of something that never comes to fruition, and I would definitely relate that to An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s an intriguing book about a man reminiscing on his past as an artist and the choices he made in his career. There is one part in particular that I think can be linked pretty strongly with this song but of course, I don’t want to spoil anything.
MIRRORS – PVRIS
“White lights are too bright
I just wanna see a trace of an outline
Say your name into a mirror three times
Said it three times, said it three times”
I think this song is so creepy, and I love it! I’m sure the connections between it and Say Her Name by Juno Dawson are quite clear if you’re familiar with any version of the ghost story that requires you repeat the ghost’s name three times – ideally, in front of a mirror. Like with Crimson Bound, it’s been a really long time since I read this book, but I remember feeling only a little scared by it – so, as someone who is scared of every little thing, I can say this would be a great book to pick up if you are looking for something on the tamer side for Halloween. I also remember being impressed by the very end – I can still picture that part super clearly in my mind!
GET OUT ALIVE – THREE DAYS GRACE
“If I stay, it won’t be long
‘Til I’m burning on the inside
If I go, I can only hope
That I’ll make it to the other side”
It was a very specific time in my life when I first loved this song and so I can’t help but be reminded of long car trips and the city at night when I listen to it. The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow definitely matches those aesthetics but I think it fits well with the lyrics too. The story takes place in a world that has been invaded by aliens and follows two main characters that each cling to music as a source of hope. I can’t say too much more for fear of spoilers, but there is a great sense of urgency and uncertainty in this book and I think the lyrics I’ve featured reflect that.
HEAVY IN YOUR ARMS – FLORENCE + THE MACHINE
“My love has concrete feet
My love’s an iron ball
Wrapped around your ankles
Over the waterfall”
Once again this song was written for a Twilight film, though somewhat infuriatingly the Spotify version is not quite the same (or, in my opinion as good) as the one on the CD. This is also probably one of the more tenuous links I’ve made between song and book. The Afterward by E.K. Johnston is mainly focused on two women who formed a strong, romantic bond during a quest to save the kingdom, and the way that relationship is forced to change upon their dramatic return. One of the women, Kalanthe, is a knight and the other, Olsa, is a thief (yes, even after playing an integral part in saving the kingdom, she needs to steal for survival), and Kalanthe often has to bail Olsa out – that’s how I connect it to the song.
LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO – TAYLOR SWIFT
“I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”
When this song was first released, I remember hating it – the repetitive sound grated on my nerves and I have always disliked the sentiment of blaming other people for your own actions. However, I’ve really grown to enjoy it over the last year 🤷♀️ I have matched this song with All’s Well by Mona Awad which is a book about a college theatre director who experiences chronic pain. It has a focus on Shakespeare plays and I think that fits with the references to acting and the stage in the song. I also feel that the main character, Miranda, has some moments where she blames other people for the things she does… but I sort of agreed with her and ended up thinking her actions were, if not necessarily justifiable, extremely understandable. Judge me for that if you wish, lol.
HARD CAME THE RAIN – RAG’N’BONE MAN
“We grew life, two broken souls entwined
Same heartbeat, our feet fell out of time”
I remember the person who introduced me to this song, and funnily enough the cover of this book reminds me of her aesthetic 😅 I really love this song for winter, but I think it’s haunting enough for the Halloween season – as is Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour – it has ghosts! The atmosphere, setting and overall storyline were top tier in this book, but the connection I see with the song is a smaller, yet not insignificant, part of the book – the main character’s fraught relationship with her mother. I think so many of the lyrics can be related to that.
MACHINES – CROWN THE EMPIRE
“So shackled by smiles, so empty
We’re scared of the war,
So we’ve forgotten who we are
We’ve traded in hope for safety”
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart is easily one of my favourite books – I love everything about it, the magic system, the characters (🥰🥺), the mysterious nature of the plot… It all comes together in this near-perfect book. I can’t wait for the sequel! Anyway, the main reason I matched this book to this song is the magic system. I won’t explain it properly, (because a big part of my enjoyment of the book was discovering the magic system and its intricacies as the story moves along), but the people of the empire play a huge part in it, and place a lot of faith in their ruler, even when they would rather not, which I think relates to the featured lyrics above. I also think that the plot involving Phalue and Ranami (when you’re faced with the flood, will you stand for the future, and swallow your pride?) matches the theme of the lyrics overall. There are a few other little connections I could make, but once again, I don’t want to spoil the book.
BLACK CAT – MAYDAY PARADE
“You’re like a black cat with a black backpack full of fireworks
You’re gonna burn the city down right now”
Though this song has always reminded me of the Addam’s Family Values movie, lol, I of course had to choose a book for this post. A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo takes a look into the dynamics of female relationships and explores the lengths people will go to for their friends. The story begins with two best friends, Jess and Angie – they are super close and spend almost all their time together. But one day another girl, Margot, arrives on the scene and Jess immediately knows that she’s going to mess everything up – which is why I matched the book with this song! Of course, this book is a YA thriller, so things take a much more dramatic turn than just the complication of a friendship – the mentions in the song of jealousy, death and certain other things make the link stronger, in my opinion.
LET THEM IN – PVRIS
“I wanna feel something
That’s not the touch of your breath on my neck
I wanna feel something
That’s not the weight of your world in my head”
I’ve talked about The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon a couple of times now, even though I only read it in September – I just loved it that much. The story follows Wyatt, a witch from a fae kingdom who has essentially run away from home after a traumatic experience. He’s reluctant to go back, because there are so many huge expectations placed on him (ie. he is supposed to marry his childhood best friend and become king alongside him) – when he gets very little in return from the people of the kingdom. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but I’m sure that is enough to explain why I connect this book to the song – especially the lyrics I’ve featured above.
NIGHT CRAWLING – MILEY CYRUS, BILLY IDOL
“Night crawling, sky falling
Gotta listen when the Devil’s calling
Can’t shake it, I’ll taste it
When it’s yelling out my name, I chase it”
I had super high expectations for Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer because I had loved the movie already, and as you may know, the book unfortunately didn’t live up to it, in my opinion. Still, I think both book and movie fit well with this song! The story follows a group of women researchers who are the twelfth expedition to explore Area X, a mysterious place separated from the rest of the world. Despite the experiences of past expeditions making it clear that this mission is a dangerous one likely to end in death, there is something about Area X that lures these women to it. I think the book in particular captures the curiosity that drives the main character, and that especially connects it to this song for me.
I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE – MÅNESKIN
“And I’m a killer
Who’s searching for redemption
And I’m a bad guy
Who’s searching for redemption”
First of all, I have to admit that I’ve been a little bit obsessed with Måneskin for a while now, so I had to include one of their songs, and I think this one works well for the post and also matches well with Peter Darling by Austin Chant! Another favourite book I’ve read this year, Peter Darling is a Peter Pan retelling like no other that follows Peter upon his return to Neverland after ten years have passed. There’s no doubt about it, both Peter and Hook are “bad guys”, at least in the beginning of this story, and yet, in true enemies-to-lovers fashion, they “search for redemption” in each other. I highly recommend this beautiful, and emotional, adult fantasy romance!
ONE OF US – GUY SEBASTIAN
“And one of us sleeps longer
One of us is done with crying
One of us don’t feel like they die
Whenever they realise this is not a dream”
You could debate whether this is a funny story or not, but for a while there was a conspiracy theory that Guy Sebastian was the first person to bring COVID-19 to Australia 😅 Anyway, I do like a fair few of his songs and this creepy-sounding one I have decided to match with If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane! The book starts with the dissolution of a long term relationship and has a strong focus on the ways the main character feels about and deals with that – she is definitely the one hit hardest by the break up, like the narrator of the song.
DON’T BLAME ME – TAYLOR SWIFT
“I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy
And baby, for you, I would fall from grace
Just to touch your face
If you walk away, I’d beg you on my knees to stay”
To finish off this post I’ve selected a final Taylor Swift song 🥰 I was struggling to choose between two books for this final pairing, but then I realised no one is stopping me from including both! These books are SFF f/f true enemies-to-lovers stories, so both have characters that “would fall from grace” for the other person and could say “love made me crazy”. “I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy” reminds me of This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone in particular (because Blue, one of the main characters, is nature focused) and I feel that “If you walk away, I’d beg you on my knees to stay” specifically matches Crier herself from Crier’s War by Nina Varela. Both of these are favourite books of mine, so if you haven’t read them, but you’re even slightly interested, I highly recommend them!
What do you think?
Have you read any of these books? Do you think they match the songs? Do you have any “spooky” song suggestions? Let me know!