My Favorite Book Villains

by - October 18, 2019

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I LOVE VILLAINS. If I had a choice, I would only read (and write) books about villains and anti-heroes lol. Morally gray characters are just so much more interesting to read. And as an enemies to lovers fan, I encounter them all the time. Here's a short list of some of my favorite despicable villains.

1. Victor Vale and Eli Ever from Vicious

But these words people threw around - humans, monsters, heroes, villains - to Victor it was all just a matter of semantics. Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.
Am I cheating by including both? Victor is our villain protagonist who spends the entire book tracking down Eli, his ex-best friend turned nemesis, with the intent to kill him. Eli pretends to be a hero, but he isn't. He's spent ten years murdering other people with abilities.

There's a reason why the series is called Villains, y'know.

Anyway, I love them so much. Eli legitimately thinks that he's doing the right thing by killing "unnatural" creatures. He's got the wildest religious zeal and thinks of himself as God's messenger. Meanwhile, Victor is sadistic, selfish, and ruthless. He'll do anything to get his revenge and make Eli suffer. 

Plus, they're both so obsessed with each other. Ugh, yes I ship them, you can judge me all you want.

2. Xifeng from Forest of A Thousand Lanterns

She would wrap her coils around him in tender confinement and be not his captive, but his captor.
A YA Asian fantasy with a villainous protagonist who uses her femininity to manipulate the court and seize the throne? HELL YES. I wish YA had more Xifengs. She's absolutely ruthless, selfish, and lethal. The tragic thing is that she does start as a sweet girl, but her aunt's abuse and the promise of a greater destiny lures her to violence. I love characters who embrace their darkness. But I also love characters who are cunning enough to scheme behind the scenes and play everyone else like pawns. Xifeng can stab you with a knife, yes, but her weapon of choice is her combination of beauty and brains. She uses her words to turn her rivals against each other until she won't have to raise a finger. Sis. The power.

3. The Darkling from the Shadow and Bone trilogy

“I've seen what you truly are," said the Darkling, "and I've never turned away. I never will. Can he say the same?”
DARKLING RIGHTS. Like, I'm pretty sure the Darkling is the OG villain love interest in YA fantasy. He's so deliciously dark, tortured, and evil. He's manipulative. He's cruel. But he sees Alina's potential and doesn't shy away from her power. He's the darkness to her light, the yin to her yang, the death to her life.

I confess that I didn't finish the trilogy upon learning that he wasn't endgame lol. I am shallow like that sometimes. But Aleksander will always have a place in my heart. <3

4. Florian and Johann from The Monster of Elendhaven

Monster was the best, his favourite word. The first half was a kiss, the second a hiss.
This little novella has everything I adore: fearless violence, luscious prose, and villainous protagonists in love. Technically, only Johann is the Monster of Elendhaven, but both of them are so evil and twisted that even Florian counts, I think. This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 and it did not disappoint! Plus, there's an explicit m/m pairing, so we say goodbye to just subtext (*cough* Vicious *cough).

5. Rachelle's forestborn in Crimson Bound

He stared at her a moment longer, then laughed softly. “I wouldn’t love you if you were any weaker,” he said, and let go of her.
Okay, the identity of the villain is a spoiler, so I won't name him directly. But I fell in love with him fast and hard and... turns out my two favorite skeevy characters were the same person! Oof! I wish I could give more away but... there's nothing I love more than a hot demon who is cruel to everyone except the woman he loves. Plus, he loved Rachelle for her strength and bravery. He knew they were equals. He taught her how to achieve her goals and move on, even if he was on the Big Bad's side. He has a tragic backstory; he just wants love and affection. He's whip smart, powerful, and handsome... and he takes pride in it. Even in the end... he shows that he really did love Rachelle, despite it all.

Help, if I think about this anymore, I might cry.

Please read Crimson Bound. It left a gaping hole in my heart. And I still need to wail about that ending.

Runner Ups:

1. Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses

I mean... does he even count as a villain anymore? I feel like adding him would be cheating.

2. Leo from This Savage Song

Another VE Schwab novel because she's so good at creating despicable characters! Just like Eli, Leo is an overzealous monster who kills his enemies because he was "born" to do it. In many ways, I think This Savage Song was a better exploration of the same themes that Schwab wrote in Vicious, but if it's a "better villain character" competition then... Vicious wins just out of sheer memorability.

What about you? Who are your favorite book villains? ;)

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  1. I hear you about loving anti-heroes and villains- I completely get what you mean! I love victor and eli so much!! and darkling is a great pick!! hehe I hear you about rhysand as well!

    1. YESS, high five! Glad to see we have similar taste in villains :)