The best books about good and evil

81 authors have picked their favorite books about good and evil and why they recommend each book.

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Swan Song

By Robert McCammon,

Book cover of Swan Song

Saving the best for last. This was published after and said to be inspired by Stephen King’s The Stand, but I feel it far surpasses it. This book has the same scenario of a desolate end of everything with the remaining humans in a fight of good versus evil, but in this book, I feel the characters are more believable. The evil ones are despicable, and the good ones are likable. Especially Swan, whose innocence shines from the page.

Who am I?

What would I do if I was the last person on Earth? I have wondered this since I was a child after watching apocalyptic movies; Damnation Alley, Night of the Comet, and of course the Romero Living Dead movies. Would I be able to make it? Could I not only survive but contend with whatever menaces there were to face be they aliens, monsters, the living dead, or the actual living. My imagination would run loose, putting myself in the shoes of the characters to see how I’d fare, what would I do differently. These little escapes grew and matured into my own stories.


I wrote...

Life Among The Dead

By Daniel Cotton,

Book cover of Life Among The Dead

What is my book about?

There are over a million people in the city of Waterloo. Today, most of them have died, and now they're hungry. Corporal Dan Williamson is caught in the middle of the outbreak, desperately trying to reach his wife who is somewhere amid the urban decay. There are other souls out there, other tales of survival among the horror. Dan will soon learn that the living may prove to be an even bigger threat than the dead in this zombie epic.

The Bear and the Nightingale

By Katherine Arden,

Book cover of The Bear and the Nightingale

This book brings to life Russian folklore and the world of magic that many have forgotten. I specifically enjoyed how this book includes you in the magic, as if you had been born knowing the tales and creatures taught about. Our character Vasya has a rebellious nature and fierce wildness in a world of order and strict obedience. It’s liberating to read of her wild heart. 


Who am I?

I look at the world with poetic eyes and search for magic in everything. As a writer, I feel everything has a story to tell. I like to tell stories with magical connections that leave fingerprints on us after we are done reading them. When I read an author that impresses me with the magic they create, I am a fan of them forever. I strive to make that kind of impression someday. 


I wrote...

Vivatera

By Candace J. Thomas,

Book cover of Vivatera

What is my book about?

It’s about a world where the elements of magic have poisoned the souls of the people it touches, leaving a ghost of their essence trapped to roam among the living. Because of the danger this magic poses, the protectors of these elemental stones have been scattered around the land, and now it’s up to one girl to seek out their hiding places and bring the world back in balance. 

The City We Became

By N.K. Jemisin,

Book cover of The City We Became

What better way to start talking about some of the world’s greatest cities explored in SFF than with a book that’s the origin story of a city avatar, the first of a series called The Great Cities? New York and London are probably the most explored cities in English literature—for anyone who’s grown up reading books in English, there are versions of these cities that exist in your imagination, layered over the years by generations of talented authors. But despite seeing NY in several hundred films, shows, comics, and books, The City We Became delved deeper into the hearts of the city’s people, and the spirit that makes them who they are, than any other speculative novel I’ve read. I was thinking of Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 to represent it because of all the impressive futurist research that went into it—but in the end, people have to come…


Who am I?

I’ve been writing and publishing novels across speculative genres for almost two decades now. In my most recent book, The City Inside, the city of Delhi was perhaps the second most important character, and it was quite a struggle attempting to capture its challenges and delights, its people across its many divides, and the experience of living in this constantly turbulent megapolis. So I’ve spent the last few years thinking a lot about reimagining real megacities, capturing their essences without exotifying or demonising them, and about where the borders of speculation and reality lie in a world where it’s already difficult to trust any single point of view or even source of data.


I wrote...

The City Inside

By Samit Basu,

Book cover of The City Inside

What is my book about?

The City Inside is a near-future science fiction novel set in Delhi, India, a harsh city under constant surveillance, full of in-your-face glamour and behind-the-scenes violence. The novel follows two young people—Joey, a Reality Controller, who manages the multi-media live streams of her ex-boyfriend, one of India’s fastest rising influencers, and her childhood friend Rudra, a privileged recluse trying to escape his powerful family’s very shady business empire. As a series of events plunges them into dangerous territory and makes it impossible for them to look away and stay safe, they must learn how to cope with, and then change their world for the better in any way they can.

The Gunslinger

By Stephen King,

Book cover of The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I

A seeming tangent, I know, but bear with me…if you haven’t read King’s Dark Tower books, you are missing out on one of the most amazing works in modern literature. Just read the Foreword to The Gunslinger and you’ll get some idea of why I treasure the concept here—King left Roland of Gilead, in a world blending Tolkien and Clint Eastwood westerns, for many years before returning to the Dark Tower, but so much of his work continued to feature references to the Dark Tower universe. If you’ve seen the terrible movie that sacrilegiously condensed King’s magnum opus into a 90-minute disaster, please erase it from memory before immersing yourself into the most fantastic blend of horror and fantasy you’ll ever read. If, like me, you get your hands on the illustrated hardbacks that close the series, you’ll enjoy this even more.


Who am I?

While Dune, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica (1980s), and other SF staples laid the foundation for my love of SFF, I was also reading about the universe from a young age. Along came Star Trek: The Next Generation in the ‘90s and the stage was set. Completing Bachelor’s Degrees in Ancient History & Archaeology; Religions & Theology; and a PhD in Near and Middle Eastern Studies copper-fastened my passion for the ancient world and the history of religion, and along with reading historical fiction and fantasy, everything merged into the almost allegorical universe you’ll find in Kiranis. Lovers of all the above will find something here.


I wrote...

Gods of Kiranis

By Ronald A. Geobey,

Book cover of Gods of Kiranis

What is my book about?

Kiranis charts the machinations of the Prophet Naveen, as he bends the Universe to his will in a scheme spanning centuries of human development. Gods of Kiranis lays the foundation for a breathtaking new universe, as the Cage arrives at Earth and a countdown threatens activation:

A mysterious structure encompasses Earth, and while the Church of the New Elect prepares for communion with the Sentience, a dark and distant world is reborn. Making an alliance with a powerful and enigmatic species, humankind is brought to a terrible realisation: they do not belong in this universe. Cassandra Messina was warned these days would come, and she believes God is on her side. But the one who speaks from the shadows is not a god at all. Not even close.

The Stand

By Stephen King,

Book cover of The Stand

The Stand thrusts ordinary people into a desperate situation. What stood out for me was that the nature of the apocalypse itself or surviving the aftermath was not the focus of the book. Rather, it focuses on the tensions between the factions that arose after the fall of civilization. In a struggle that reflects those experienced on a global scale in reality, a democratic society must confront a totalitarian regime in a struggle for the fate of humanity. This clash of ideologies is a wonderful exploration of the different ways in which civilization might be rebuilt, and fuel for a gripping conflict.


Who am I?

I lived in small towns with “ordinary” people most of my life, so books where people from small towns contend with situations beyond the ordinary fascinate me. I also served in the US Army as a nuclear, biological, and chemical operations specialist and am a military history buff, so anything with a military spin is all that more engaging for me and I developed a morbid fascination for just how easy it would be for us to end civilization as we know it. Therefore, military science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction are among my favorite genres. 


I wrote...

What Once Was Home

By B.K. Bass,

Book cover of What Once Was Home

What is my book about?

When his world is suddenly torn apart, one man must learn to survive in What Once Was Home.

Jace Cox’s life is changed when an overwhelming alien force invades the Earth with no warning or provocation. In the years that follow, he must not only fight to survive, but also learn what it means to be a man and a leader. As the situation grows more dire and the weight of loss bears down on Jace, he realizes his greatest challenge isn’t the alien invaders or even his fellow man. It is holding onto his own humanity despite living in a world gone mad.

Perelandra

By C.S. Lewis,

Book cover of Perelandra

Overall, I’m more a fan of The Narnia Chronicles, but Lewis’ lesser-known Space Trilogy is also very good, with many of the same themes of ancient evil versus ageless good. Perelandra, the second in the trilogy, is self-contained and doesn’t really require the other books

In Perelandra, Lewis re-imagines our entire solar system, filling it with massive numbers of amazing creatures. The eldila, angelic beings that guard planets and their denizens, send the human protagonist, Dr. Ransom, on a mission to save Perelandra, the world we call Venus. Perelandra is in a kind of primeval Eden-type state, but another Earth man, the arrogant and overly rationalistic Weston, is bent on bringing about its ruination.


Who am I?

I don’t remember a time that I didn’t love fantasy and science fiction and the innumerable alternate worlds they presented. The elements within them were what drew me in: a sword in a stone, a magic cauldron, a bizarre or wonderful creature, a light saber, an interdimensional portal, and so on…. It wasn’t until later that I began to love the way that truth was conveyed to my heart by way of those elements, without me fully realizing it. The fundamental realities that hold us all together are always sneaking around inside those worlds, and I live with a passion to wrestle with those realities in my own writing. 


I wrote...

By the Downward Way: Book One of the Von Koppersmith Saga

By Dan Lord,

Book cover of By the Downward Way: Book One of the Von Koppersmith Saga

What is my book about?

Leo Von Koppersmith is determined to face down the family curse that, for centuries, has driven his male ancestors to madness. To do it, he must travel to a hidden island inhabited by strange and wonderful humans and humanoids, and help protect a tribe of children who have mysteriously fallen out of the sky, all while evading the demonic flesh-hungry creatures that hunt them. Above all, Leo will have to be the one thing that has been missing from his family since the beginning long ago: a loyal father.

Maximillian Villainous

By Margaret Chiu Greanias, Lesley Breen Winthrow (illustrator),

Book cover of Maximillian Villainous

Maximillian is perfect for readers who want a funny story. The underlying message is cleverly woven in—clever like Maximillian who concocts a plan to try to keep a fluffy pet bunny (which, of course, is not an appropriate pet for a child in a family of villains). Kids want their parents to be proud of them, and sometimes that collides with their true desires, and this book masterfully shows that there is common ground, even when it appears there isn’t.


Who am I?

A former microbiologist and attorney turned children’s book author, I’m delighted to advocate for children’s self-confidence and critical thinking skills in literature. I like to write about things that I know, to share my passion, and about things I don’t know—to learn more. Stories have been an escape and a learning tool for me and I want to share stories that do the same for children today.


I wrote...

Lola Shapes the Sky

By Wendy Greenley, Paolo Domeniconi (illustrator),

Book cover of Lola Shapes the Sky

What is my book about?

Lola Shapes the Sky tells the story of a playful cloud named Lola. She isn’t like the other clouds in the sky. She would rather make shapes than weather. Rain? Nope. Shade? Nope. Snow? Nope. The other clouds bully and then abandon Lola. But the people on the ground remind Lola that there’s value in what feels right to her. Standing up for herself, Lola shows that clouds that make beautiful shapes and clouds that make weather can co-exist.

Meeting the Shadow

By Connie Zweig, Jeremiah Abrams,

Book cover of Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature

I feel like this book was the best college course I never got to take. Meeting The Shadow is a collection of essays from psychologists, therapists, scholars, and artists who have scoured the depths of the psyche. I love the work of Carl Jung, but I’ve found it quite difficult to parse through entire books of his. This book however, by drawing from such a diverse group of thinkers makes shadow work incredibly accessible, captivating, and illuminating. It is also formatted into specific sections like Emotional Suppression, Sexuality, The Dark Side of Spirituality, The Psychology of Evil, The Shadow of Politics, Dream Analysis, Shadow in Gender, and Owning Your Dark Side Through Art & Creativity. There’s something for everyone in here, every chapter a dark and alluring cave inviting you to explore its harrowing and majestic landscape. I can’t recommend this book enough for anyone being called to look within…or…


Who am I?

From the time I could hold a crayon, I was drawing. I often don’t know how I truly feel about something until I make art about it. Led by imagination and curiosity, I'm a seasoned traveler in liminal spaces and love guiding people between the mystical and the mundane. With 20-plus years of experience as an Artist and Creative Director, I've discovered that solutions to any problem can be found through triumphs in imagination and a willingness to view the situation from a different perspective. By peeking into my own shadow, darkness, and hidden places, I've gained a profound reverence for the human soul and deeper compassion for what it is to be alive.


I wrote...

The Keepers of Color: A Creative Hero's Journey Into the World Within

By Jon Marro,

Book cover of The Keepers of Color: A Creative Hero's Journey Into the World Within

What is my book about?

Inspired by Joseph Campbell and his lifelong study of The Hero’s Journey, The Keepers of Color is designed to take you on an adventure into yourself. It is aimed at reawakening your sense of wonder, imagination, and boundless creativity, as you move from your fears and doubts into your hopes and dreams. 

Part coloring book, part journal, and part folktale, The Keepers of Color will ask you to contemplate the very simple, but profound question of why you are here. It serves as a reminder to the life you are capable of living and a training ground where you can practice playing full-out by giving your whole heart to something. 

Because You Love to Hate Me

By Amerie,

Book cover of Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

It’s always a joy to find a good short story collection, better yet when the stories are all giving the villains from fairy tales a chance to tell their side of the story. From Jack in the Beanstalk to The Little Mermaid, this collection is a great one to dive into and find out what makes our famous villains tick. 


Who am I?

Bad boys in young adult romance have always been one of my favorite tropes to read. For seven years, I facilitated a poetry workshop with teens in a juvenile detention center and got to hear their stories—the heartbreak, the challenges, and the triumphs under all that bad boy façade. My memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention, is about the workshops and helped me understand both myself as a writer and the “bad boys” who wrote poetry each week. There are a lot of complexities to bad boy characters and the most satisfying stories are the ones where the bad boys redeem themselves and find love. 


I wrote...

Weaving Magic

By Mindy Hardwick,

Book cover of Weaving Magic

What is my book about?

Can Shantel and Christopher move beyond magical illusions to find love? He loves magic. She loves romance. But the biggest illusion is the one Shantel and Christopher perform together. Sixteen-year-old Christopher fights to stay sober while fifteen-year-old Shantel struggles in the aftermath of her mother’s death and seeks refuge in a fantasy world.

But the unacknowledged roots of their problems refuse to stay buried and soon, the two are headed toward a deadly magic trick.

Dispelling Wetiko

By Paul Levy,

Book cover of Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil

As someone who campaigns for a better way to operate spaceship Earth, Dispelling Wetiko was the precise slap in the face I needed to break free from the spell that has captured so many would-be change-makers like myself. It’s so easy to look around and point the finger at those who benefit most from the world’s problems as being the cause agents when nothing could be further from the truth. 

It is our collective hopes, our weaknesses, and our fears – multiplied in their billions – that create the super-structure that billionaires enjoy. Levy defines this as a collective psychosis of humanity that wreaks havoc on the world around us – a psychosis that we must face down before we can hope to defeat it.


Who am I?

Being a musician does funny things to you. It leads you to look for patterns in the beautiful – and not-so-beautiful. To my mind, music is art and logic perfectly combined. I believe this unique combination offers musicians extra insights into the world around us. My desire to discover patterns in the world around me, fused with an underlying sense of injustice, has helped shape the opinions and ideas for a better social model that I write about today. I've founded several online initiatives, written extensively, and given talks around the concept of a post-money, open access economy. I believe this will ultimately prove to be the only viable path for humanity over the next century.


I wrote...

F-Day: The Second Dawn Of Man

By Colin R. Turner,

Book cover of F-Day: The Second Dawn Of Man

What is my book about?

F-Day is the story of a society coming of age. Where one man’s refusal to accept modern life as the best humanity has to offer starts a countdown clock, counting down to a better, post-money world, then embarks on a quest for knowledge, a journey across four continents, against the mighty machine of politics, media, and dark forces to found a society that has superseded money in the unlikeliest of places: Iceland.

After facing down an economic cataclysm, Iceland struggles in its new, fragile post-money prototype, inadvertently becoming the focus of political leaders across the world, deadly curious, daring it to fail. But to everyone’s amazement, Iceland slowly steadies itself and begins to blossom...

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