The best anti hero books

18 authors have picked their favorite books about anti heros and why they recommend each book.

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The Brit

By Jodi Ellen Malpas,

Book cover of The Brit

I want to include a fellow British writer in my list and JEM is my favorite for suspenseful steamy stories. The Brit is the first in the Unlawful Men series. Dark and broken, mafia anti-hero Danny Black is brooding and bad. He is not supposed to fall in love with the women he takes as ‘collateral’ in a deadly game of power. Rose Cassidy has learnt to be tough to survive. Danny sees her as the mirror of himself. Their twisted attraction is not for the feint-hearted but I loved it!

Who am I?

I am a British writer and avid reader of a wide range of genres who’d harbored a life-long ambition to be an author. It wasn’t until I became addicted to seductive romance that I found my own writing flow. I love books that have the power to transport you. Indulging in an adult ideal for a few minutes (or hours) in a day, when your body reacts viscerally to the words on a page, makes you swoon, your cheeks flush and your heart race is my reading and writing heaven. I hope you will experience the same delicious escapism in my book choices as I have. 

I wrote...

Much Ado About Benedict

By Emma Perle,

Book cover of Much Ado About Benedict

What is my book about?

Beatrice, an up-and-coming corporate lawyer, is looking forward to taking some much-needed time off during a long weekend stay with her cousin Holly and her family, who are hosting a charity ball at their country house, along with some extra house guests, officers from her uncle’s regiment. On arrival, Beatrice is faced with Benedict, a charismatic but obnoxious army captain she had met the previous year, whom she loathes. She’s startled to realize that she and Benedict have explosive sexual and romantic chemistry that will change their lives.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, this novel takes Beatrice and Benedict’s witty bantering to a whole new level.


By Kade Cook,

Book cover of Grey: The Covenant of Shadows

In Grey, Gabrian doesn’t believe in magic. She’s a psychologist, and proud to be one. She bases her life on logic, but when things start to happen that she can’t explain, she finds herself in a whirlwind of magic. The way that Gabrian slowly comes to the truth is probably my favorite part of this book. As a Borrower, she’s considered not just a magical being, but a dangerous one. At first, she doesn’t handle this well and takes on the role of an anti-hero, nearly villain which was an interesting way to not only build Gabrian’s character but to introduce the truth of the magical world as well.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of all genres that’s found a lot of love, particularly in fantasy and thrillers. My love for epic fantasies first began when I was young, and like all young readers, was introduced to Harry Potter and the Magic Tree House series. The idea of being whisked away to a magical world captivated me, and so, I started to create my own stories to keep that magic alive. 

I wrote...

The Council

By Kayla Krantz,

Book cover of The Council

What is my book about?

The Council is the governing Coven over the Land of Five, a region entirely inhabited—and split apart—by witches with varying powers. Lilith Lace, a witch thought to be born powerless, happily resides in Ignis, the Coven of Fire, until she suddenly develops telekinesis, an ability only seen in some witches born in Mentis, the Coven of the Mind. She's terrified of it, unsure who she can trust. Her best friends, Helena and Clio, are hot and cold about what she can do, leaving Lilith even more unsure about her future.

At her Arcane Ceremony, the truth comes out. When the Council learns what she can do, she’s taken under their wing and is finally told the truth—everything she’s learned about the Land of Five, herself included, have been nothing but lies.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

By Stephen Donaldson,

Book cover of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever : Lord Foul's Bane', 'Illearth War' and 'Power That Preserves

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever is a fantastic tale of two worlds. There is the Land, a mystical place of good versus evil, with inhabitants who use supernatural means to summon help against the darkness, and our world where the writer Thomas Covenant lives as an outcast to keep his leprosy in remission and to avoid his hostile neighbors. When he is magically transported to the Land and its people beg him to fight the evil for them, he refuses, believing it is a suicidal delusion that will reactivate his disease and kill him. The troubled hero Covenant could not be more compelling, or his dilemma better written, especially as the true-blue inhabitants of the Land struggle to understand why he can’t do the right thing.

Who am I?

I’ve had a thing for antiheroes since my early days that were dominated by stereotypical “true-blue” protagonists in straightforward “good versus evil” narratives. Comic books, novels, and television shows were stunted by this unrealistic division that was intended to shelter the reader from provocative ideas and philosophies in favor of presenting a stable worldview. This distortion was most obvious in entertainment intended for young Canadian minds, so it wasn’t until I was old enough to make my own library selections and book purchases that I began to seek out the dark characters populating the gray area that is fiction and life. This ongoing exploration is reflected in my books.

I wrote...

The Variant Effect: Skin Eaters

By G. Wells Taylor,

Book cover of The Variant Effect: Skin Eaters

What is my book about?

The old building in a rundown part of Metro was a perfect place to find a body, but they wouldn't have dragged Joe Borland out of retirement if it still had its skin. It's been twenty years since he battled the Variant Effect, and twenty since he let his partner get skinned alive. Now both of them are ordered back into action to meet a terrifying new threat.

Sometimes when you need a hero, you get Joe Borland.

Black Lies

By Alessandra Torre,

Book cover of Black Lies

I personally love twisted relationship books, especially when the antihero is hard to distinguish. This book deals with a marriage that is far from typical. I can't say more without spoilers, but take my word that this makes for a fabulous suspenseful read. If you read a book that makes you want to kick and scream when you finally "get it" then this is a perfect read for you. All I can say about Black Lies is expect the unexpected!

Who am I?

My passion for true crime fiction started in 2016 with the murders of eight family members in a neighboring county in Southern Ohio. The case made international news, and five years later there are still more questions than answers. I felt the victims of this heinous crime deserved some closure which the legal system has not yet provided. So, writing a fictional version of this story was my way of providing closure - at least in my own mind.

I wrote...

Murders on the Ridge: Mystery in Briar County

By Andrea Smith,

Book cover of Murders on the Ridge: Mystery in Briar County

What is my book about?

Eight bodies were found in less than four hours in Briar County, Ohio. Every significant member of a local family, their ages ranging from 16 to 44, were shot execution-style inside of four different homes not far apart. Local, Federal, and State law enforcement officers swarmed the community, interviewing more than 50 people and combing the wooded areas surrounding the crime scenes. The Ohio Attorney General said the massacre was “pre-planned” and “sophisticated.” A businessman out of Cincinnati offered a $25,000 reward to anyone with answers.

But when the answers started to come, they only raised more questions. Fingers began to point, family conflicts grew, and before this crime was solved, one more local would be found dead.


By Marissa Meyer,

Book cover of Renegades

Look, Marissa Meyer is the queen of action-adventure found-family stories. No matter which of her books you pick up, you’re going to have a good time. The Renegades series is a dope sci-fi, superhero genre story that has a surprisingly serious theme. Our two protagonists, Nova and Adrian, live on opposite sides of the villain-hero dichotomy in a world where superheros and supervillains are commonplace. Cue angsty literal enemies-to-lovers drama and some pretty amazing character building. Seeing the way Meyer dives into the backstories and drives of these characters means the romance is absolutely stellar. Buckle up for this ride.

Who am I?

I don’t just write YA sci-fi, fantasy, and magic steeped in romance—I’m obsessed with the subject in general. Whether it’s the newest book series, tv show, movie, or anime… you can bet your golden snitch that I will be devouring any of these stories I can get my hands on. I'm a sucker for coherent plot work, snappy dialogue, fun action sequences, and phenomenal character building. Trust memy list has your back.

I wrote...

Echo Through the Stars

By Jessica Lynn Medina,

Book cover of Echo Through the Stars

What is my book about?

Avery Vey lives on Level 4 of New San Francisco, far removed from the war that rages on Echo, the sister planet just beyond the hypergate. She wants nothing to do with Earth’s pointless crusade against the native race of that world. After a routine bioscan, the Earth Federation beats down Avery’s door and takes her into custody. When fellow prisoner Finn Lunitia helps her escape, they find that Avery has incredible powers—that no human should possess.

As Finn drags her to Echo, Avery is unwillingly labeled a savior for their people. But to rescue her grandmother, she must master her gifts, as well as the political games that govern both worlds. With each step she takes, the planet—and Finn—begin to take hold of her heart.

A Spell for Chameleon

By Piers Anthony,

Book cover of A Spell for Chameleon

A tree is just a tree. But the trees in Santh have a humanesque will to survive. They’ve evolved magic properties that keep predators from cutting them down—a peace spell that causes would-be lumberjacks to fall asleep and never wake up or a ignore spell that causes predators to ignore them. The magical plants of Santh understand what drives their enemies and use that knowledge against them.

Who am I?

I was talking to some scientifically minded people online when I came across quantum physics. When I read that there’s something scientists call the Quantum Realm, I knew I had to write a book. I took the information a German scientist who specialized in quantum theory gave me and created a science fantasy world. I have a masters in English and a bachelor's in communication. Two of the most important questions a fiction author can ask are What if? and Why not? Instead of having a regular guy fall into a magic world, I had the magician’s apprentice fall into a world of science just to see what he’d do. 

I wrote...

Queen of the Quantum Realm: Book One of the Nanosia Series

By Rhonda Denise Johnson,

Book cover of Queen of the Quantum Realm: Book One of the Nanosia Series

What is my book about?

In this YA fantasy novel, Jawan, apprentice of the powerful earth mage, finds himself trapped in a world one-billionth his normal size where subatomic beings hail him as the hero who comes to save them. Jawan knows he doesn’t belong in this world and longs to go home, but he must stop Antipan whose machinations threaten both worlds.


By Sally Rogers-Davidson,

Book cover of Polymer

I picked up a copy of Sally Rogers-Davidson’s book Polymer in a bookshop in Glebe. I admit I took it from the shelf because of the chance resemblance between our names. It entertained me royally on a long bus ride and I instantly wanted to write to the author. I later met Sally R-D and found we had more in common than our names and our penchant for writing science fiction.

Polymer is one of the most wonderful lively, romantic, adventurous space operas I’ve ever read. It’s sharply written, and Polly Meridian herself is a heroine I wish I’d invented. Her hero is an antihero at first, but the story persuades the reader to give him a chance, as Polly does.

Who am I?

I’m Tasmanian. I’ve loved books set in other worlds since I encountered Robert Heinlein’s juveniles in my teens. I often find books set in the mundane world of here-and-now implausible or dull, because the adventures seem contrived or else result from characters doing something stupid or bad. If characters venture to other worlds, or other planets though—that’s a different ballgame! I read a great deal of fantasy and sci-fi, and when I was fourteen, I started writing my own. I enjoy a wide variety of genres, but my favourite stories are those where I can follow relatable characters through wild adventures and believe every line.  

I wrote...

Elysian Dawn

By Sally Odgers,

Book cover of Elysian Dawn

What is my book about?

Marianne Arcadia expected to marry Jeremiah and raise a family. Edsen Balm had no more hope than to stay close to Marianne. Jameel Singh intended to travel home to Terra to meet his fiancée’s parents. Hanaka Moon was meant to oversee the next generation of ship-born and pass the mantle of healer to her daughters. Meera Singh wanted to prove herself as the brightest new diamond in Mother Shiva’s crown. Cornelia Conti hoped to get her embroidery done and to find a shampoo that didn’t contain Stay-colour. All their plans crash-landed with the starship Elysian Dawn but that, as they say, was just the beginning.

The New and Improved Romie Futch

By Julia Elliott,

Book cover of The New and Improved Romie Futch

I love this novel because it mixes Southern Gothic with speculative fiction in a hilarious epic struggle between man and hog. When middle-aged taxidermist Romie Futch becomes a research subject in the shady Center for Cybernetic Neuroscience, he becomes both super genius and guinea pig, his middle-aged brain now brilliant beyond comprehension. Troubled by errant downloads that track his thoughts and actions, Romie turns taxidermy into pop art as he hunts down the legendary super pig “Hogzilla.” This is the funniest, wittiest book I’ve read in a long time. 

Who am I?

I was lucky enough to land a job teaching English at the University of Montevallo, a small public liberal arts college where I have had the opportunity to explore my strange academic interests and teach classes with titles like “Am I Human?” and “Southern Neogothic II: Disability, Hicksploitation, Meat.” When I got tenure, I also had the time and freedom to try my hand at writing the kind of Southern Gothic, Bizarro, and Horror tales that I have always adored. From Mad Magazine to MaddAddam, I have always craved dark satire, body horror, and the grotesque. It’s in my blood. 

I wrote...

Ballad of Jasmine Wills

By Lee Rozelle,

Book cover of Ballad of Jasmine Wills

What is my book about?

Channel surfing, I saw a commercial where people were eating worms for the reality TV program Fear Factor. I thought, why would somebody watch worm eating for entertainment? What would I eat for all that media attention? These questions compelled me to write a book where an overweight banker is kidnapped and made the star of a reality TV show called Diet Extreme. Locked inside a studio in the middle of the Alabama woods, Jasmine is tortured with fancy food, brainwashed with self-help videos, and badgered with exercise routines for her growing mass of livestream fans.  


By Pippa DaCosta,

Book cover of Betrayal

Unrelenting action and snappy dialogue made this book an instant fav. It contains some of the best things: betrayal, revenge, a mouthy and haunted anti-hero and heroine, spaceships, and sexual tension from page one. The way this book blends all those things—and yes, this is sci-fi, not fantasy—makes a wildly entertaining start to a perfect series. I’ve never loved characters and their banter more. This perfect team both hates and loves each other and won't stop getting up no matter how many times they're knocked down. Impossibly high stakes and a plot that pits hero against heroine until their alliance becomes the key to a universe-sized revolution. What an amazing book. I devoured the whole series and can’t wait for the finale. 

Who am I?

I’ll admit I’m a terribly picky reader. My specific taste doesn’t seem to fit in one genre and is sometimes hard to nail down—literary prose with genre tropes, softly-integrated worldbuilding, adventure that leaves room for reflection, and a love story subplot that’s more mental than physical. I love anti-heroes and angst and stories that get a bit dark—but not too dark. When I find it, I’m hooked and obsessed, and I feel like I’m twelve years old again, reading late into the night with a flashlight under the covers. That exprience is what I’m always hunting for, and what I attempt to recreate in my own writing. 

I wrote...


By Kay Camden,

Book cover of Unquiet

What is my book about?

In Mick’s quiet Missouri town, strangers stand out—especially mysterious women who vandalize cars in broad daylight. It’s strange, but none of Mick’s business… until he notices the woman’s busted lip. The right thing to do is offer her a ride—which is how he ends up with her knife against his throat in his own apartment.

Waapikoona has nearly reached her quota of bodies to raise her sister from the dead. But she stalls killing Mick, sensing another regret she’ll have to carry in her already dark world. She’s crossed the circle of time, made a pact with a powerful underworld demon, and angered the thunderbirds. Mick can’t escape his new calling: stop Waapikoona and the unquiet she’s dragged into his town.

A Doll's House

By Henrik Ibsen,

Book cover of A Doll's House

A controversial play because of its end. Nora Helmer is the main character, a Norwegian married woman, wife of a bank manager, and a mother of three. Her life elapses day after day without opportunities for self-fulfillment in the last decades of the 19th century. I can’t say this female character is a feminist for its time, because she lives in a world full of laws made by men; so, in this sense she is like a doll, a superficial and wasteful person, and she changes slowly from act to act; she feels empty, she contemplates killing herself and at the end of the play Nora leaves her husband and family trying to escape from a stifling male-dominated society. Although this play was not intended written as a feminist, it has a great historical value in this field. If after reading you try to imagine what kind of life…

Who am I?

Núria Añó is a Spanish novelist and biographer. She writes on authors like Elfriede Jelinek, Patricia Highsmith, Salka Viertel, Alexandre Dumas fils, Franz Werfel or Karen Blixen. Her writing centers on the characters’ psychology, often through the use of anti-heroes. The characters stand out most about her work; they are more relevant than the topic itself. With an introspection, a reflection, not sentimental, but feminine, she finds a unique balance between the marginal worlds of parallels. Her novels deal with important social and current themes like injustice or lack of communication between individuals.

I wrote...

The Salon of Exiled Artists in California

By Núria Añó, Joannes W. M. Groenewege (translator),

Book cover of The Salon of Exiled Artists in California

What is my book about?

The Salon of Exiled Artists in California is a biography of Salka Viertel, a Jewish actress who emigrated to Hollywood and was popularly known as the screenwriter of the Swedish actress Greta Garbo. Besides, she had a salon in Santa Monica, California, which was attended by a large part of the European intelligentsia in exile. Salka was a very modern and interesting woman for her time who should be recognized as such.

The book deals with topics such as Salka Viertel's alleged bisexuality and the number of friends she had, to name but a few: Albert Einstein, Charles Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, F. W. Murnau, Max Reinhardt, Arnold Schönberg, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Greta Garbo, Montgomery Clift... Also, like Gertrude Stein and other notorious women, she had her literary salon through which writers like Truman Capote, Christopher Isherwood, Gore Vidal, and many other writers passed. Other themes she covers are the Berlin of the 1920s; the transition from silent to spoken film, as seen from the Mecca of Hollywood. Then, the rise of Hitler and what it meant for the Jewish condition; the exile of those intellectuals who could not return to their respective countries because of the Second World War. Later, the Cold War and the witch-hunt against communism. The truth is that the background to the life of Salka Viertel and her circle of friends encompasses the great events of the 20th century.

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