I could not resist this topic as I love a book villain, especially one who is a little bit sympathetic or is extremely clever!
1. Voldemort, from the Harry Potter series – I thought I’d kick off with a classic and couldn’t resist putting Voldemort on the list. He’s got it all. He’s physically frightening, creepy, wants to kill the lead character, wants to oppress all Muggles, you name it, if it’s evil, Voldy wants to do it. Plus his middle name is Elvis in the French translation, which is très drôle, non?
2. President Alma Coin, from the Hunger Games trilogy – I know Snow is more iconic but Coin is ultimately more cunning, and therefore more interesting to me. I love it when a villain appears to be the good one but has a self-serving plan.
3. Speaking of self-serving, Piper Greenmantle in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle is the queen of selfishness. She does whatever suits her in the moment without really thinking about it and that makes her much more scary then any of the other potential villains in this series.
4. Another villain that appears to be ‘the good one’ is Silarial, the Queen of the Seelie Court in Holly Black’s Modern Fairy Tale series. The Seelie Court make a good show of being genteel but behind all that prettiness they’re child-snatching monsters.
5. The Queen in The Sin-Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury has so much power she gets away with only the thinnest veneer of civility, which is quickly brushed away when things don’t go as she had planned.
6. Opal Koboi, from the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, is probably my favourite villain on this list. She pretends to be an upstanding businessfairy, but is actually deliciously evil and brilliantly cruel. It’s so much fun to both see her put Artemis and the others in danger and get her comeuppance.
7. Opal seized power from her father, and another favourite villain who grasped power when she had the chance to get it is Circe, from Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy. She was the girl who wasn’t gifted, who could only access power when her best friend allowed it, and when there was the risk that she would never be able to wield it again, she took matters into her own hands. I have a lot of sympathy for her – even though she does terrible things to get that power.
8. That’s enough individuals – now let’s move on to a villainous organisation. Rush Recruitment is the big bad of the Hobson and Choi series by Nick Bryan (my boyfriend – the fourth book is out today so I couldn’t resist including them on my list), an evil recruitment agency/human trafficking organisation. They’re genuinely terrifying, even though so far they haven’t appeared that frequently, because they have their fingers in so many pies and commit such appalling acts.
8. In the marvellous historical fantasy Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho, the villain is really institutional prejudice. Everything would have gone a lot differently for the main characters had they not had to deal with racism and sexism throughout their lives – and a good part of the plot involves them fighting it efficiently and hilariously, in order to save the day.
10. Similarly, but more extreme, the villain in Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill is the entire goddamn system. Everything is hopeless for frieda and isabel because all the odds have been stacked against them. And that’s the most frightening thing of all.
Let me know in the comments if any of your favourite villains are on my list, and if you’ve participated in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday.