The most recommended books about villains

Who picked these books? Meet our 14 experts.

14 authors created a book list connected to villains, and here are their favorite villain books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of villain book?


Book cover of Assistant to the Villain

J.D. Blackrose Author Of Demon Kissed

From my list on Great romantasy books that aren’t by Sarah J. Maas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m passionate about this because I write romantasy too, and so do many other wonderful authors. Sarah J. Maas is a legend in the Romantasy genre, and she’s prolific, so there’s a lot to read with her various series. But, if you’ve finished with her books and are looking for more, there are plenty of authors out there doing amazing, spine-tingling, dare I say loin-tingling work, and we should celebrate them. Besides, no matter how prolific Ms. Maas is, readers will always finish books faster than even she can write them.

J.D.'s book list on Great romantasy books that aren’t by Sarah J. Maas

J.D. Blackrose Why did J.D. love this book?

This book is on many folks’ Best of 2023 list, and for good reason. It’s romantic, funny, and irreverent. And Maehrer birthed it from a TikTok series of short videos. There’s nothing not to like here. 

Evie Sage needs a job badly. Her family needs the money to eat, so it doesn’t matter what employment she finds, just as long as they pay her. A chance run-in with the town’s most Evil Villain ends in a job offer, and she takes it. It doesn’t hurt that he’s attractive, even if he runs a nefarious crime empire. (Insert evil laugh here.)

While drooling over her boss isn’t required, it’s sure fun. However, it all turns very serious when someone turns against the Villain and puts her job in jeopardy. Besides, she’s not certain who the real bad guys are. 

The joy here is how the author turns the hero/villain trope on…

By Hannah Nicole Maehrer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Assistant to the Villain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LIMITED FIRST PRINT RUN―featuring spray-painted edges, while supplies last in the US and Canada only.

Once Upon a Time meets The Office in Hannah Maehrer’s laugh-out-loud viral TikTok series turned novel, about the sunshine assistant to an Evil Villain…and their unexpected romance.

ASSISTANT WANTED: Notorious, high-ranking villain seeks loyal, levelheaded assistant for unspecified office duties, supporting staff for random mayhem and terror, and other Dark Things In General. Discretion a must. Excellent benefits.

With ailing family to support, Evie Sage's employment status isn't just important, it's vital. So when a mishap with Rennedawn’s most infamous Villain results in a job…

Book cover of The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System

Evelyn Benvie Author Of I Am Not Your Chosen One

From my list on trope-twisting fantasy to make you laugh.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been an avid ready of fantasy for over twenty years, and I’ve spent nearly as long at least thinking about writing. In that time, I have definitely found some fantasy that wasn’t for me and some that really, really was. I like my fantasy fun and relatively light—I own nearly every Discworld book but could never get into George R. R. Martin. And my writing has naturally evolved around the same lines. I love a good joke or a well-timed pun almost as much as I love unexpected takes on fantasy tropes. 

Evelyn's book list on trope-twisting fantasy to make you laugh

Evelyn Benvie Why did Evelyn love this book?

A blend of humor and Chinese fantasy, The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System was my first brush with the Chinese sub-genre of transmigration novels, similar but different from Western portal fantasy or Japanese isekai. The main character ends up in a world not his own, and in the process of trying to make it better, comes rather close to destroying it. That dissonance between intention and results is something I absolutely love in my heroes. Competence is boring. I want to see (and write) messiness and complacency and efforts made that perhaps weren’t thought out all the way. That, to me, is not only humor but true heroism.

By Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, Xiao Tong Kong (Velinxi) (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The blockbuster danmei/Boys' Love novels from China that inspired the animated Scumbag System series streaming in English! This comedic tale of a man reborn as a villain in a fantasy novel series who ends up romancing the male protagonist is now in English, for the very first time!

Half-demon Luo Binghe rose from humble beginnings and a tortured past to become unrivaled in strength and beauty. With his harem of over three hundred wives, and dominion over both the human and demonic realms, he is truly the most powerful protagonist-in a trashy web novel series!

At least, that's what Shen…

Book cover of Inside the Villains

Alison Farrell Author Of Cycle City: (City Books for Kids, Find and Seek Books)

From my list on for kids who delight in details.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the ages of 1-4, my son Finn deeply rooted himself into the detailed world of Richard Scarry. These books could be such slow reads that we only needed two of them for long airplane rides. Through Finn’s love of Scarry books, I began searching for more books that delighted with detail. And when I did not see my family’s bicycle-rich lifestyle reflected in books, I created Cycle City.

Alison's book list on for kids who delight in details

Alison Farrell Why did Alison love this book?

Lift the flaps and take an intimate peek inside the villains and find what really makes them tick. Through a twist in classic fairytale storytelling and a sophisticated design, this book has reimagined the inner workings of the iconic fairytale witch, giant, and wolf. Pull levers and tabs, discover objects on strings, and open flaps to discover the real truth about the villains. Brilliantly creative and exploratory.

By Clotilde Perrin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inside the Villains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Internationally bestselling, oversized lift the flap book that reveals the secrets of the most famous fairytale villains.

Explore if you dare! Take a look inside and discover the villainous tricks inside the heads of an ogre, a wolf and a witch. Lift the flaps to find out what’s beneath their disguise and who was the victim of their last meal (now comfortably settled inside their stomach!).

This exquisitely produced large fold-out book is like no other: a celebration of story that’s full of humor and detail on every page, and has over 30 interactive elements that will mesmerize toddlers, pre-schoolers…

Book cover of Descent: A Dark Billionaire Romance

Laurelin Paige Author Of Dirty Filthy Rich Men

From my list on dirty filthy rich men.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the role of power dynamics and psychological games in relationships for as long as I can remember, frequently seeking out entertainment and exploring these topics to make sense of what was happening in the world around me. Now as a writer of 42 novels, many of my stories center around these themes and their consequences and complications, always from a point of view that empowers women. Dirty Filthy Rich Men, and its follow-up Dirty Filthy Rich Love, specifically focus on the difference between the devastating act of rape and consensual rape play, with the intention of validating women who are drawn to edgier fantasies in fiction. 

Laurelin's book list on dirty filthy rich men

Laurelin Paige Why did Laurelin love this book?

This book is dark and Calvin Cutler is not a book boyfriend anyone should aspire to in real life. If you’re a reader attracted to non-consensual romances, Marino manages to cleverly keep the trope alive throughout the whole book, without resorting to sex slave scenarios. I couldn’t flip through the pages fast enough.

By Sam Mariano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Descent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Calvin will do anything for me... except leave me alone.

We were strangers, as far as I knew.
He saw me once, but didn’t introduce himself like he could have.
Calvin Cutler. Nice to meet you.
But there’s nothing nice about Calvin Cutler.
He’s ruthless and single-minded, and he zeroed in on me—a hapless target for his dark and twisted appetites.

In the depths of Hell, I first looked into his sinful brown eyes, felt the greedy touch of his demanding hands for the first time.
Not the last time, though.
He wanted more. So much more.
He wanted me,…

Book cover of The Couple in The Cabin

Sharon A. Mitchell Author Of Gone

From my list on psychological thrillers to stimulate your mind and heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

The human mind fascinates me. Perhaps that’s why I got a PhD in Psychology, and have spent decades in the counseling field. That, of course, brought me in touch with all kinds of minds. Why do people do the things they do, make the choices they live with? We learn patterns in childhood that keep us safe. What if those patterns no longer work in adulthood, or worse, were built on false beliefs? Do life’s events shape us or do they merely show who we were all along? In my psychological thrillers, I explore such things. Even the bad guys have their stories.

Sharon's book list on psychological thrillers to stimulate your mind and heart

Sharon A. Mitchell Why did Sharon love this book?

Don’t you love it when you don’t know who is the victim and who is the villain? A cheating husband, caught by his distraught wife. Now she’s out for revenge. You could understand her initial reaction, couldn’t you? But wait, is there more to this? I loved the twists in this story.

By Daniel Hurst,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Couple in The Cabin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

They’ll do anything to get out. She’ll do anything to keep them in.

When happily married Grace comes home early one night and catches her husband, Dominic, with another woman in the cabin at the bottom of their garden, she is shocked, angry, and most of all, hell-bent on revenge. That’s why she acts quickly, locking the pair in the cabin while she decides what she wants to do to them.

While Dominic and his mistress desperately try to get free, Grace makes a plan on the outside, but it’s a plan that is formed based on her previous experiences.…

Book cover of Awaken Online: Catharsis

Eric Walsh Author Of The Mad Immortal

From my list on clever protagonists who bend their world’s rules.

Why am I passionate about this?

My GameLit stories like The Mad Immortal are inspired by the fun I've had playing RPGs such as World of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons. It’s that same sense of adventure that I seek out in other stories and that I feel these five books I selected demonstrate. In their own way, each of them inspired my own series as I worked to develop the rules for its magic system and to come up with compelling ways the characters could interact within those established restrictions. I love reading about clever applications of magic to solve problems, especially when it’s not immediately obvious how a given spell would help!

Eric's book list on clever protagonists who bend their world’s rules

Eric Walsh Why did Eric love this book?

Awaken Online: Catharsis was actually the very first LitRPG/GameLit book I ever read, and from the opening chapters, I was hooked.

It follows the story of Jason, a player in the VRMMO Awaken Online who becomes a powerful necromancer and is positioned as the game’s villain. I think what drew me in the most was how Jason explored his various abilities, always seeking new ways he might be able to modify or use them to his advantage.

He’s also not afraid to push back against what seems to be the established order within the system, utilizing his powers in a variety of awesome and surprising ways. I definitely drew inspiration from how the magic is described here for my own story, even though my story features less overt game elements.

By Travis Bagwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Awaken Online as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jason logs into Awaken Online fed-up with reality. He’s in desperate need of an escape, and this game is his ticket to finally feeling the type of power and freedom that’s so sorely lacking in his real life. Awaken Online is a brand new virtual reality game that just hit the market, promising an unprecedented level of immersion. Yet Jason quickly finds himself pushed down a path he didn’t expect. In this game, he isn’t the hero. There are no damsels to save. There are no bad guys to vanquish. In fact, he might just be the villain. (This novel…

Book cover of Abarat

Rhonda Denise Johnson Author Of Queen of the Quantum Realm

From my list on sci-fantasy on non-human worlds that act human.

Why am I passionate about this?

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. 

Rhonda's book list on sci-fantasy on non-human worlds that act human

Rhonda Denise Johnson Why did Rhonda love this book?

I like the way Barker takes really bizarre characters like John Mischief and makes the reader relate to them in an unexpected way. What could be more human than an experience of unrequited love. In Abarat, the lord of midnight falls in love with the princess of day. He’s a really evil guy, but his falling in love is still believable because he’s thinking about the joining of night and day. I’m glad Barker didn’t try to get me to feel sorry for him by showing how his mother locked him in a closet when he was a little boy. That is so boilerplate.

By Clive Barker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abarat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A dazzling fantasy adventure for all ages, the first of a quartet.

Abarat: an archipelago of amazement and wonder. A land made up of twenty-five islands, each one representing one hour of the day, each one a unique place of adventure and danger (and one mysterious place out of time), all ruled over by the evil Christopher Carrion, Lord of Midnight, and his monstrous grandmother, Mater Motley.

Candy Quackenbush, a 16-year old from Chickentown, Minnesota, crosses by accident from our world into Abarat, and discovers she has been there many, many times before. She has friends there and she has…

Book cover of Starter Villain

Karen Haber Author Of That Unfortunate Problem with Grandmother's Head and Other Stories

From my list on science fiction and fantasy books that keep me reading.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began reading science fiction when I was 8 years old and "borrowed" my father’s library books until, in defense, he got me my own library card. Not only have I spent decades reading SF, I’ve written it as well. As a veteran reader and writer with plenty of kill marks on my fuselage, I'm literally married to the SF mob (Grandmaster Robert Silverberg, is my spouse). I can both walk the walk and talk the talk. And after writing 9 SF novels including a Star Trek Book and reading uncounted SF and F tales, I still think science fiction and fantasy can be a literature of ideas illuminating the human condition.

Karen's book list on science fiction and fantasy books that keep me reading

Karen Haber Why did Karen love this book?

What happens when Charlie Fitzer, a former journalist and divorcee down on his luck inherits his great-uncle's evil empire?

Hugo Award-winner John Scalzi (Redshirts, Old Man's War) had me at his knowing depiction of cats and their ways of communicating. His other characters aren't bad, either, including the viewpoint character who receives an unexpected and highly daunting inheritance, and most especially Matilda Morrison, a woman of extreme agency. Known for his humorous take on various literary genres, Scalzi here provides action that is laugh-out-loud funny,

 It's worth the price of admission just to read his dolphin scenes or the peculiar behavior of mourners at his uncle's funeral, but there's much much more including a clever satirical treatment of deep-state private clubs belonged to by so-called masters of the universe. Light, funny, heart-warming, and inventive.

By John Scalzi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Starter Villain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Locus and Hugo Award-winning author John Scalzi brings us a turbo-charged tale of a family business with a difference - as Charlie discovers when he inherits it. This one comes with a hidden headquarters, minions, talking cats and James Bond-like supervillain rivals.

'Starter Villain establishes Scalzi as SF's leading humourist' - SFX

Warning: supervillain in training. Risk of world domination.

Inheriting his late uncle's business proves complicated. It's also way more dangerous than Charlie could ever have imagined. Because his uncle had kept his supervillain status a secret - until now.

Divorced and emotionally dependent on his cat, Charlie wasn't…

Book cover of The Bad Guys

Barbara Elsborg Author Of The Story of Us

From Barbara's 7-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Gay Romance Writer Ex-seller of cyanide Avid reader Funny Imaginative

Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Barbara's 5, 7, and 10-year-old's favorite books.

Barbara Elsborg Why did Barbara's 7-year-old love this book?

This is fun, easy to read, has lots of characters, and the author gives each one a distinctive voice. He’s always asking for the next in the series.

By Aaron Blabey,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Bad Guys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?


"I wish I'd had these books as a kid. Hilarious!" -- Dav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants and Dog ManThis New York Times bestselling illustrated series is perfect for fans of Dog Man and Captain Underpants.They sound like bad guys, they look like bad guys . . . and they even smell like bad guys. But Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark are about to change all of that...Mr. Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys' first good mission. They are going to break two hundred dogs out of the…

Book cover of Super

Taylor Ellwood Author Of Learning How to Fly

From my list on how to save the day from the villain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I really enjoy superhero fiction, especially superhero fiction that challenges the usual norms of the superhero genre. I’ve always liked reading comics and moving onto superhero novels has only deepened my love of the genre. The list I’ve created is just the tip of the iceberg for superhero fiction and I highly recommend you check out these books for interesting takes on superheroes and villains. 

Taylor's book list on how to save the day from the villain

Taylor Ellwood Why did Taylor love this book?

The main character is an assassin who hunts down superheroes who’ve gone rogue.

He’s been given an impossible mission to assassinate one of the most powerful superheroes, who’s impervious to just about everything, and also stop a rival assassin from killing the president.

This was a nail-biting adventure that will keep you on your toes, wanting to know what happens next.

By Ernie Lindsey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Super as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the USA Today bestselling author of Sara's Game, this is SUPER, a unique blend of superhero fiction and crime thriller.

"Impossible to put down until you know the answers. Exciting, thrilling, and full of deception, this is one of my favorite books of the year."
- Jason Gurley, bestselling author of Greatfall

"Every hero's journey has a beginning, middle, and end...I am that end."

A world mourning a fallen superhero.

A president targeted for assassination.

A conspiracy that runs deeper than anyone suspects.

Leo Craft is the best at what he does; he assassinates superheroes, but only the ones…