The best books about the devil

6 authors have picked their favorite books about devil and why they recommend each book.

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The War in Heaven

By Kenneth Zeigler,

Book cover of The War in Heaven: The Chronicle of Abaddon the Destroyer (Tears of Heaven)

This is actually the second book of Zeigler's Tears of Heaven series, but I read this one first and it stands perfectly on its own. There's so much I love about it, from the concept of rebel dark angels working to overthrow Satan with the help and ingenuity of human scientists and soldiers they rescue from Hell's torments to Zeigler's masterful world-building based on scripture and classic depictions of Hell. He pulls no punches in vividly describing the agonies of damnation. But it's his clever use of scientific principles to explain Hell's supernatural rules as well as arm his protagonists that truly stands out for me. I strove to achieve that level of logic in my book, but Zeigler manages to weaponize it as only a trained scientist could.


Who am I?

I've always been fascinated by the idea of the war in Heaven. As a storyteller, the eternal struggle between angels and demons fighting for the fate of creation has been a source of perpetual inspiration for me. But finding stories about angels that aren't YA or paranormal romance can be challenging. So, channeling my love of historical fiction and action-packed adventure, I set out to craft a thrilling, realistic tale that puts the reader right on the front lines beside a peaceful angel forced into becoming a warrior fighting against his former brothers. This list reflects my favorite books that paved the way and inspired my own work.


I wrote...

The Sabrael Confession

By Stephen J. Smith,

Book cover of The Sabrael Confession

What is my book about?

Sent to Earth as part of a secret force to protect the newborn Christ from fallen angels eager to kill the would-be Savior, the angel Sabrael and six of his brothers soon discover the fallen are searching for a lost gateway that would allow them to bypass Heaven’s fortified walls and mount a direct attack on their former home. 

Deciding to stay until they locate and destroy the portal, the angels embark on a hunt that leads Sabrael around the world and through the ages on an action-packed journey from first-century Jerusalem to the present-day United States, battling fallen angels and masquerading as a human, culminating in a massive confrontation between Heaven and Hell's forces that will change his life—and the fate of mankind—forever.

The Master and Margarita

By Mikhail Bulgakov, Christopher Conn Askew (illustrator), Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky

Book cover of The Master and Margarita

The searing soul of his characters is explored, from a talking black cat to witches, demons, and Pontius Pilate's dog. The blasted heath of the human mind is laid bare, and the reader transported to ancient, familiar realms. 

I am haunted by Bulgakov's tale and by himself, by all the spirits, demons, ghosts, and apparitions he somehow conjured here, and which have never ceased to live in my imagination since. I had never heard of the book, saw its dark spine on a bookshop shelf 20 years ago, and was lured over to it, drawn to the thick, heavy-inked pages. I did not expect all the universe to be depicted there, in a frenzied, swirling maelstrom that would never surrender me since. 


Who am I?

I've been searching for spiritual freedom since the age of four when I was sent to school. Soon I recognised books as an escape from the limitations of the physical world and into the dream world. Each of the five books below have made serious contributions to this psycho-spiritual escape plan, and have lifted my spirit to that higher dimension of freedom. I live in the Scottish Highlands, as my ancestors did, in a misted swirl of ghostly archetypes, mountains, deer, lochs, and brooding skies. Even here though, an escape tunnel is needed into the deepest realm of mind, where the stories and mystery hide away until the moment needed. 


I wrote...

The Survival of Thomas Ford

By John A.A. Logan,

Book cover of The Survival of Thomas Ford

What is my book about?

Thomas Ford is the only survivor of the car crash which killed his wife. He is also the only witness who would be willing to identify the young, reckless driver who caused the crash. But the driver has no intention of ever letting himself be identified.

The young driver’s father is Jack McCallum, the powerful entrepreneur who has built a housing empire, McCallum Homes, on the high hills surrounding the city. Robert Ferguson, the passenger who was with the young driver on the day of the crash, watches carefully to see what the universe will do about it all, and he thinks he can hear the gears and chambers of the universe’s engine, rolling terribly towards them, out of the future.

Working for the Devil

By Lilith Saintcrow,

Book cover of Working for the Devil

Dante Valentine is a Necromance who works as an investigator for the police—solving murders by conjuring up the spirit of the dead person then asking, ‘Hey, who did this?’ Like Jim Butcher, Lilith blends humour and action, and she locates her stories in a unique futuristic/fantasy world in which demons wear black jeans. These books are afire with narrative energy and also brim with passion and love and eroticism. Dante Valentine is a superb kick-ass heroine and if you like a walk on the dark side, I’d warmly recommend the five volumes in this series. 


Who am I?

I am a science fiction and fantasy novelist and also a screenwriter and prolific writer of audio dramas for BBC Radio. I began my career many eons ago writing for the crime drama series The Bill and during that period I spent a lot of time mixing with coppers & villains and attending crime scenes. I have a great passion for detective and crime writing as well as all forms of speculative fiction, and I’m a sucker for crime/fantasy mash-ups.


I wrote...

Version 43

By Philip Palmer,

Book cover of Version 43

What is my book about?

Version 43 is a high-concept detective thriller set on an alien planet. Version 43 is a cyborg detective given the job of solving a crime on a planet run by desperados and criminals, who keeps getting murdered by his enemies. And every time this happens, a new version of the cyborg cop picks up the case—but without his most recent memories... This book was inspired by Dashiell Hammett’s classic noir thriller Red HarvestI added cyborgs, quantum teleportation,  and aliens.

The Devil in a Forest

By Gene Wolfe,

Book cover of The Devil in a Forest

I remember picking this up, not expecting much since it was marketed as a novel for adolescents, but what I found was a gripping story, very dark, about a time when there was a struggle between paganism and Christianity. It was a lot more than I’d expected, and so, like all the books on my list, it’s one I’ve returned to, to reread. It’s set in a simple village, and there’s a dark presence in the woods that surround the village, that might be a devil. The lead character is a young man trying to define the boundaries between good and evil. The writing is excellent, as is everything by Gene Wolfe, and the story is one that will stay with you. 


Who am I?

I’ve been a lover of fantasy fiction ever since as a 12-year-old boy I lived in Oxford near the great J. R. R. Tolkien and read The Lord of the Rings and loved it so much I wrote to the author and he wrote back to me. I have no interest in the current commercialized fantasy genre. When I came to write a novel I wanted to write one that was actually imaginative, that had some philosophical heft, that an intelligent adult could enjoy. I wanted to write a book that mattered, that had some of my ideas about the nature of God and – yes – the devil.


I wrote...

The Devil's Workshop

By Donnally Miller,

Book cover of The Devil's Workshop

What is my book about?

My book is subtitled A Metaphysical Extravaganza because it explores many metaphysical concepts such as the true nature of God, and just exactly what are life, love, and death?  One of the characters concludes that God is language, in which case the Devil wants to free us by draining all meaning from the sounds that come from our mouths.

Of course, the novel is also a ripping pirate yarn with star-crossed lovers, pirates, Indians, and rebellious slaves as well as a quick trip through the Devil’s workshop. Come aboard and join Tom and Katie as they traverse the treacherous reefs of the Coast.

Duet for the Devil

By T. Winter-Damon, Randy Chandler, Edward Lee

Book cover of Duet for the Devil

Two of the top voices in extreme horror fiction unite to create a surreal road trip to hell. Loosely based on the crimes of the Zodiac Killer, as well as several other serial killers, Duet for the Devil pushes all possible boundaries and stands as a monumental achievement in Extreme Horror. Featuring hundreds of pages of brutality and disturbing criminal behavior, the book is not one to be forgotten.


Who am I?

My experience and expertise – I am not only a reader of horror, in particular extreme horror, but I am a published writer with several hundred writing credits. I have had hundreds of stories and articles published on many websites, magazines, and anthologies including a story in Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 5. For eleven years I wrote articles on the bizarre and morbid for Girls and Corpses magazine. I have been consistently writing for 20 years, and have also helped write several independent horror films. I have written many reviews and interviews as well, most recently in Phantasmagoria Magazine.


I wrote...

Hurting My Toys: Spiritual Suicide

By David L. Tamarin,

Book cover of Hurting My Toys: Spiritual Suicide

What is my book about?

Hurting My Toys is an extreme horror tale about a schizophrenic drug-addicted serial killer who cannot differentiate between fantasy and reality. In his deluded mind, he can become a God who controls the universe provided that he kills enough people. Warning - may be traumatic to some.

The Descent (Jove)

By Jeff Long,

Book cover of The Descent (Jove)

I love this book. It’s ambitious and brutal. It’s about the discovery of a civilization—savage, violent—that exists deep within the earth. Humanity, in this novel, comes face to face with what we really are. Religion is a theme, too, as many regard this new world as Hell. And when the world above attempts to quell this fierce race, using military force, it initially comes off second best… and then, the beasts of the Inferno start to ascend. It’s big and bold, brilliantly researched. It inspires me to be authentic, and work at getting facts right.


Who am I?

I like action. I like raw. I like violence. Not carrying it out, I hasten to add, but reading and watching it, fiction, of course. Real-world violence distresses me (unless it's consenting, like combat sports). I get deeply upset when I hear about the cruelties humans inflict on each other, and on animals; I'm oddly sensitive to that as a horror writer. But I think that writing about (fictional) violence and reading or watching it, helps me confront my fears. The books I mention do that. They make me uncomfortable, nervous, uneasy, but the twists and turns of the plot give me highs as well as lows. For me, they help me become a better writer.


I wrote...

Skarlet

By Thomas Emson,

Book cover of Skarlet

What is my book about?

Fear grips London as dozens of clubbers die after taking a sinister new drug. But that's only the beginning. 48 hours later, the dead clubbers wake up—and it's open season on the living, who are butchered for blood. Soon, London gives a name to its terror: Vampires.

Jake Lawton, bitter and betrayed after the Iraq War, now finds himself fighting another battle. He joins forces with the journalist who brought about his downfall and the dealer tricked into distributing the drug. But the vampire plague unleashed in London is nothing to what lurks beneath the streets. Waiting to be fed... Waiting to be resurrected... Waiting to reign again over a city of human slaves...

The Devil is Dead

By R. A. Lafferty,

Book cover of The Devil is Dead

Anything by Lafferty is well worth reading. This was intended as the second book of a trilogy, but got published on its own. This tells primarily of Finnegan, an astonishing hero who is searching for the devil. If you haven’t made the acquaintance of R.A. Lafferty, this would be a good place to start. Imagine a cartoon world modeled on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. Lafferty writes in a tall tale mode that disguises much of his literary ambition. It’s hard to describe Lafferty’s writing. It might be described as Calvino with no pretension. Or maybe, just read a sample:

A night-dune imaginary: there was a world full of people with pumpkin-heads for heads, and candles burning inside. Then Seaworthy and the Devil and their spooky crew came along, lifted the top off each head, blew out the candles inside and put the tops back. The pumpkin-headed people…


Who am I?

I’ve been a lover of fantasy fiction ever since as a 12-year-old boy I lived in Oxford near the great J. R. R. Tolkien and read The Lord of the Rings and loved it so much I wrote to the author and he wrote back to me. I have no interest in the current commercialized fantasy genre. When I came to write a novel I wanted to write one that was actually imaginative, that had some philosophical heft, that an intelligent adult could enjoy. I wanted to write a book that mattered, that had some of my ideas about the nature of God and – yes – the devil.


I wrote...

The Devil's Workshop

By Donnally Miller,

Book cover of The Devil's Workshop

What is my book about?

My book is subtitled A Metaphysical Extravaganza because it explores many metaphysical concepts such as the true nature of God, and just exactly what are life, love, and death?  One of the characters concludes that God is language, in which case the Devil wants to free us by draining all meaning from the sounds that come from our mouths.

Of course, the novel is also a ripping pirate yarn with star-crossed lovers, pirates, Indians, and rebellious slaves as well as a quick trip through the Devil’s workshop. Come aboard and join Tom and Katie as they traverse the treacherous reefs of the Coast.

Full Dark, No Stars

By Stephen King,

Book cover of Full Dark, No Stars

Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of four novellas dealing with the theme of retribution. One of the stories, "The Big Driver", is about a writer. I won’t give any spoilers but every time I am asked to attend a writing event, I ask myself if I should go. 


Who am I?

I’ve always been a fan of short fiction. My debut book, The Escape to Candyland, is a collection of interrelated short stories. It was a finalist in two contests: The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing and Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest. My latest book, Sometimes We Fall, is also a short story collection. It includes several contest winners. I’m working on a third collection which will be published in 2024.


I wrote...

Sometimes We Fall

By Yong Takahashi,

Book cover of Sometimes We Fall

What is my book about?

Sometimes We Fall takes readers into the lives of people searching for self, sense of belonging, and their version of truth: A son protects a secret that could destroy his family's reputation and fortune. A daughter searches for the truth as her mother descends into dementia. A mother asks an unexpected friend to look after the baby she plans to abandon. Their paths are not easy and inevitably they fall. Some pick themselves up and some can’t or won’t as they struggle to find the reason for their failures.

Wieland

By Charles Brockden Brown,

Book cover of Wieland

Charles Brockden Brown is the Founding Father of American gothic writing and Wieland is his weirdest but most readable novel. Written just after the Adams administration had banned speech criticizing the government, Wieland explores the dangers of uncontrolled speech and the threat of shadowy interlopers. The novel is narrated by Clara Wieland, whose family are plagued by increasingly threatening disembodied voices after the arrival of mysterious itinerant Frank Carwin. This domestic thriller not only showcases the development of the unreliable narrator but also questions the stability of the family and the nation in the early US.

Who am I?

I’m a lecturer at the University of Liverpool who researches 19th century American literature. A year studying in central Pennsylvania sparked my interest in early US writing and led me to a PhD in the subject. I’m fascinated in how American literature of this period both upholds and challenges the founding myths of the nation - liberty, egalitarianism, progress – and how new genres, such as science fiction and the gothic, develop over the century.


I wrote...

Liminal Whiteness in Early US Fiction

By Hannah Murray,

Book cover of Liminal Whiteness in Early US Fiction

What is my book about?

In Liminal Whiteness in Early US Fiction, Hannah Lauren Murray shows that early US authors repeatedly imagined lost, challenged and negated white citizenship in the new nation. Reading canonical and lesser-known writers including Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville, Murray argues that white characters on the borders of life and death were liminal presences that disturbed prescriptions of racial belonging in the early US. Fears of losing whiteness were routinely channelled through the language of liminality, in a precursor to today’s white anxieties of marginalisation and minoritisation.

Devil's Peak

By Deon Meyer,

Book cover of Devil's Peak

Character-driven, brilliantly absorbing, genuinely exciting, and richly atmospheric – for me, all the attributes of a rewarding crime novel. Meyer’s almost broken protagonist, Benny Griessel, is a policeman whose personal and professional lives interleave with witnesses, associates, and perpetrators, making him both intensely vulnerable but, also, highly effective. Against the backdrop of both a dark and a blindingly bright Cape Town, Meyer describes brilliantly the motivations and circumstances that bring each of his characters into conflict, making for a nail-biting read.

Who am I?

Africa can easily become an obsession: an extraordinary continent, blessed with breath-taking beauty and wonderful people, yet cursed by climate, corruption, war, and… crime. This continent is the most incredible setting for stories about people driven to crime, victims of crime, the detection of crime. Based in the UK, but a frequent visitor to Southern Africa, having written many non-fiction books, South Africa (and Cape Town in particular) was always going to be my choice of setting for my crime novels. For me, a good novel – within any genre – transports the reader into an unfamiliar world, absorbs them in the lives of the characters, and reveals insights which touch on their own lives.


I wrote...

The First Rule Of Survival

By Paul Mendelson,

Book cover of The First Rule Of Survival

What is my book about?

Seven years ago, three schoolboys disappear from the streets of Cape Town in broad daylight. They were never seen again.

Now, a new case for Colonel Vaughn de Vries threatens to re-open the case, laying bare, not only his own failures, but an institutional conspiracy of silence and cover-up. Struggling in a mire of departmental and racial rivalry, De Vries seeks the whole truth and an absolute end to the case that has haunted him for all the intervening years. Battling media personalities and vested interests, he turns to a friend - former British intelligence agent, John Marantz – but what motives does he have, and what price must be paid for the keys can he turn?

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