So you’re in the mood for books with good villains

Now, before you get all excited or angry at me – when I say “good villains“, what I mean is “well developed, fully fleshed-out villains who have actual agendas and often the narrative presents them through an unexpected twist”. That’s what you’re gonna get in this post. Or at least something close to it, I mean, I will do my best…

This rec is brought to you by an anon on CC, so please!! please!!! Always feel free to request stuff!!




Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
(buy it on BookDepo)

Of course I had to start with this! It’s one of my favourite books of this year and this is an Evil Queen retelling. Like, how could I possibly come up with a better villain? Especially when you take into consideration that actually Xifeng is the main character of the story. She’s an absolutely stunning character, allowed to be ruthless and cold and doing anything she has to in order to achieve her goals. And yet you’re somehow left rooting for her…




The Secret History by Donna Tartt
(buy it on BookDepo)

You’ve probably heard about this book, even if you haven’t read it already… Now, this is a story about a bunch of pretentious, rich, white kids who study ancient Greek at uni and are bored out of their minds. They also murder one of their friends. (Don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler, you literally learn that in the prologue.) They are kind of all?? villains of this story?? And most of all Henry Winter.




Vicious by V.E. Schwab
(buy it on BookDepo)

Okay, I’m gonna be honest – and if you follow me on gr, you already know this – but I haven’t read this yet. I do have it on good authority, though, that the whole idea of villains is treated in a super interesting way here. We have friends turned archnemeses in this urban fantasy setting where you can get supernatural abilities after a near-death experience – but we don’t really have villains. Like I said, twists on the trope are the best, so!




The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
(buy it on BookDepo)

Another one I’m reccing because my friend tells me it’s worth it, but I haven’t read it yet… Anyway, here the main character is a necromancer who raises her brother from the dead. Truthfully she’s more of an anti-hero of the story, but she’s still viewed as the villain by others, so it counts!!




Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
(buy it on BookDepo)

Look at me, reccing manga again! Also this is just the first volume, but to actually understand how wicked the villain is in this story, you would have to read all of it. Basically, though, your perception of that changes throughout the story, as you learn more and more. You realise time and time again that a person you (and the characters themselves!) considered the villain, is actually fighting the good fight and you should be suspicious of someone else entirely… It’s an incredible, rich story. Frankly, I think one of THE best I have ever read in my entire life.


interlude 2

I gotta admit, this was a rather difficult request to fulfill!! I ended up with a few more titles than I needed, sure, but that’s only because I pestered my friends to help me out… That’s the fun part, though!!

Have you read any of the books I recced? Or do you have other books in mind that I could have recced instead?? Let me know!







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36 Replies to “So you’re in the mood for books with good villains”

  1. I‘m screaming, because you rec‘d Fullmetal Alchemist!! I‘ve only seen the anime, but the story is amazing (and I know exactly who you‘re talking about) 💕

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve only watched the Brotherhood anime, but it’s one of my favourite stories as well and I’ve rewatched it so many times!! It gives me all the feels just thinking about it tbh 😂😍

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love villains, so of course I love this list!!! The Bone Witch and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns are both amazing 💕 I still haven’t read Viscous either and I need to, cause villains are my fave and I don’t know how I haven’t read it yet???

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Secret History is such a great choice for this list – everyone in it is kind of dreadful, and yet you’re sort of rooting for them anyway. I think I might need to reread this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank u! honestly, it was one of my first choices. it’s just such a twisted book…….. i’ve been thining abt rereading it as well, but for now im reading the goldfinch instead.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Xifeng and Tea so much. We don’t get enough villainous (or very morally ambiguous) teenage girls! I also really liked Vicious; it’s not my favorite Schwab book but I can’t wait for the sequel.
    Anyway I love your list and villains are one of the main reasons I read SFF. I love when we get some developed, unusual ones (or a twist on common villain tropes, too!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. we definitely dont!!!! i hope this series will change that, at least a little bit :>>>
      yeah they work best in cool sff settings, if they’re properly developed! i love that as well!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I absolutely love this post, Anna! Villains can definitely make or break a book for me. Normally they’re my favourite characters — especially in The Secret History, which I love so much! 🙂 And you will NOT regret reading Vicious, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever laid eyes on.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Secret History is already on my TBR, but I’m glad to hear that it has some good villians! Also, you’ve totally convinced me to pick up Forest of a Thousand Lanterns! I’ve been on the fence with it since I’m hearing mixed things, but it sounds so interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. well they’re not villains-villains but at the same time none of them are good people………… it’s a weird book tbh but so worth reading!!
      aahhhh im very excited! i LOVED forest of a tousand lanterns!!! i hope u will enjoy it too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. sldfjslkn I want to read Vicious SO MUCHHHHH. Friends turned eternal enemies makes me all weak and happpyyy because I’m an evil person c: Also I just read a book called In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish (which was so good, I think you’d like it ❤ ) and The SEcret History is the MC's favorite book so now I'm triple interested


  8. Yeees I loved Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, this was such a great book! I also heard lots of great things about Vicious and I loved every book I have read by Schwab so far, so I’m excited to pick up that one 😀
    Lovely post! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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