Most of the time, I enjoy a good villain. Stories need a baddie, a yang to the hero’s yin, someone to cathartically hate, someone to secretly root for. Whether they take the form of cold-hearted billionaires, evil sorcerers, hand-slicing Jedis, or professional basketball players who renege on an agreement in the most cowardly, disgraceful manner possible and as a result set a successful franchise back 5+ years and effectively end the competitive career of one of the greatest players ever*, villains of all flavors, while often loathsome, are just as often highly compelling.
While many may be more familiar with the antiheros of movies and TV, we book folk know that literature has given us a wealth of sinister characters to rival any found on the screen. As you might expect, there are plenty of lists of literary villains online. I especially enjoyed this list by ShortList (with a name like that, their lists better be decent). It’s loaded with great titles that wouldn’t be nearly so great without their superb scoundrels. If you see some books listed that you’d like to check out, do I really have to tell you where you can quite literally do just that?
*If this sounds like a weirdly hyper-specific type of villain, it is, and I only include it because I’m a massive Mavericks fan who’s still reeling from the unforgivable treachery described here. I may or may not have chosen the villain topic solely to mention it.