Happy Tuesday, book lovers. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about villains—those characters we love to hate. Or occasionally mourn because we really didn’t see that coming!
As I sat down to think about this list, it occurred to me just how many books these days don’t have villains in them. Some of the most popular genres today, such as romance, women’s fiction, and contemporary fiction, don’t rely on the traditional villain for their conflict. Then again, even in many novels where there is a villain (suspense, romantic suspense, etc) the villian doesn’t play much of an on-page role in the story, and therefore isn’t all that memorable.
So, I’ve taken a slightly wider view of the term villain for my post today. The Oxford English Dictionary defines villain as “a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.” Some of the ‘villains’ I’ve chosen below are less your traditional villain and more a character who has performed a one-time evil act that is important to the plot, or set themselves in opposition to the protagonist in some way.
With all that said . . . I think I have managed to come up with a list of some of the most memorable villians I’ve encountered in books. So here goes . . .
The Bower Files #1-7 by Steven James
This is the first book in this series, and although each book has its own stand-alone case for FBI agent Patrick Bowers to solve, there is also an on-going thread about a cannibalistic serial killer who has become a personal nemesis for Patrick Bowers. When I began to think about this topic, he was the first villain to come to mind.
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Maybe it was partly the narration of Richard Armitage, but the two ‘villains’ in this book—the draconian Mr. Murdstone, and the obsequiously creepy Uriah Heep—always gave me little chills down the spine.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I’m not sure that it’s possible to go past the Machiavellian Moriarty when discussing villains. But if I’m being completely honest, there’s something a little exciting about a villain of this calibre, too . . .
If I Run series by Terri Blackstock
There’s nothing quite so thrilling as a giant cat-and-mouse game, which is what this series amounts to. And when the cat is a crooked cop after a falsely accused mouse, the tension just gets even better!
Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig
No Less Days by Amanda G. Stevens
I didn’t even know there was a villain in this book until half-way through. And then suddenly, BAM. There’s definitely a villain. What to do about that person is the question. And boy, what a question . . . 😉
The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli
This is one of the ‘villains’ I deliberated over including, but the character in question does commit a shocking act that forms the basis of the contemporary story in this dual-timeline novel, so it fits within my parameters for this post. It’s also one of those stories that forces you to look at ‘villains’ in a new way, because there is a story behind every villain. It doesn’t justify their actions, but it does give us an opportunity to view them from a slightly different perspective and hopefully learn from them.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
This is another one where the ‘villain’ doesn’t quite fit the traditional mould, but they have perpetrated a crime that underpins the whole story. However, you don’t find out who it is until right near the end of the book, and it came as a bit of a shock to me, hence it being memorable!
A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White
Rosemary Gresham is the least traditional of all my villains because, while she’s a thief, she’s also the protagonist. And she’s rather likable, as it turns out. So she gets the ‘nicest villain’ award for today’s post. 🙂