Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is All About the Villains. Because I’m not feeling particularly creative at the moment, I decided to just go for the obvious and share my favorite literary villains. I love villains, but what really draws me in is when villains are multidimensional. When I get to see why they’re the way they are, or what really motivates them, I’m hooked. And if they author gives them some sort of internal conflict? Even better!
Below are my top ten favorite literary villains, starting with contemporary lit and moving into classics. (I tried to avoid most spoilers, but there might be a few below, so read at your own risk.)
- The Darkling – Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve only read the first book in this series, so NO SPOILERS PLEASE. But, man, I loved him in the first book. I know he’s evil, but I can’t help love him. I am planning on finishing the series soon, because I really, really want to read Six of Crows.
- Holland – A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. What Schwab puts Holland through in this series is brutal. He literally has no choice but to be a villain, which is so good. I need the third book now!
- The Jackal – Red Rising by Pierce Brown. One of my favorite things is when villains are brilliant, and the Jackal is both brilliant and insane. I love that he’s really unpredictable. Whenever I saw his name on the page, I knew something was going down.
- Naughty John – The Diviners by Libba Bray. He’s a serial-killing ghost in 1920s New York. Compared to the others on this list, he’s maybe a simpler character, but that’s okay, because he’s a SERIAL-KILLING GHOST. With a theme song.
- Voldemort – Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. To me, Voldemort is the perfect villain because he’s smart, cunning, and has a great backstory. I love the reasoning behind his motives. This list wouldn’t be complete without him.
- The White Witch – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. She was the most terrifying villain of my childhood, because she is able to trick Edmund. And she is pure evil.
- Grendel’s Mother – Beowulf. I don’t think this list would be complete without the OG literary villain. She’s a demon out to avenge the murder of her son, and she basically inspired a million villains that came after her.
- Big Brother – 1984 by George Orwell. Big Brother terrifies me. But I like the idea of a villain that isn’t a person.
- Richard III – Richard III by William Shakespeare. I love Richard III. He is manipulative and evil, but has very clear motivations. I like that a lot of his anger comes from his being miserable, because it’s easy to relate to.
- Lady Macbeth – Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Again, another villain who just needs to be on this list. She lets her ambition overshadow everything else, and basically forces her husband to repeatedly commit murder until he goes insane.
Who are your favorite literary villains?