Top Ten Noteworthy Book Villains


Hello and welcome to another episode of Top Ten Tuesday, guys! This week’s theme is all about the villains, which is great, because villains are awesome and actually pretty underrated, especially when compared to protagonists, who people tend to really fall for.

Writing a good villain, I think, is harder than writing a good protagonist. Today I’ve managed to round up ten noteworthy villains from all the books I’ve read and give each of them a villain-ness rating. Let’s get to it!

1) Eli / Victor (Vicious – V. E. Schwab)

Vicious V. E. SchwabAll Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.

NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE: Grey characters, much? Even though Eli is our more obvious book villain, both he and Victor are actually basically evil with the lengths they go to to kill each other. Eli is scary because he believes the evil he’s doing is for good — kind of like an angel murderer — and Victor is so consumed by his need for revenge, his morals are practically non-existent.

VILLAIN RATING: 6/10. Could do a lot of damage, but since they’re really technically only interested in one another, they’re not that scary.  

2) The Wood (Uprooted – Naomi Novik)

uprooted-naomi-novikThose the walkers carried into the Wood were less lucky. We didn’t know what happened to them, but they came back out sometimes, corrupted in the worst way: smiling and cheerful, unharmed. They seemed almost themselves to anyone who didn’t know them well, and you might spend half a day talking with one of them and never realize anything was wrong, until you found yourself taking up a knife and cutting off your own hand, putting out your own eyes, your own tongue, while they kept talking all the while, smiling, horrible.

And then they would take the knife and go inside your house, to your children, while you lay outside blind and choking and helpless even to scream.

NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE: It’s a forest of creepiness that manages somehow to feel human. Novik does a really great job portraying our characters as helpless against this evil Wood.

VILLAIN RATING: 8/10. If not stopped, the Wood would literally engulf the whole world and turn everyone evil.

3) King Tiberias and Queen Elara (Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard)

Red Queen Victoria Aveyard“You will kneel,” the queen murmurs, her voice soft as velvet.

I should kneel, but my pride won’t let me. Even here, in front of Silvers, in front of the king, my knees do not bend. “I will not,” I say, finding the strength to look up.

“Do you enjoy your cell, girl?” Tiberias says, his kingly voice filling the room. The threat in his words is plain as day, but still I stand. He cocks his head, staring at me like I’m an experiment to puzzle over.

NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE: As far as villains go, to be honest, the King and Queen of Red Queen are pretty… incompetent. They’re trying to threaten Mare but basically give in to her demands when Mare wants her family safe! I’d have thought that holding the family hostage would be a more effective threat, but alas.

VILLAIN RATING: 3/10, with most of their power coming from the fact that they’re the king and queen and basically have their kingdom at their disposal. Not so intelligent, though, and you may well outsmart them.

4) The Commandant (An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir)

An Ember in the Ashes“I will tell you the same thing I tell every slave brought into Blackcliff. The Resistance has tried to penetrate this school countless of times. I have discovered it every time. If you are working with the Resistance, if you contact them, if you think of contacting them, I will know and I will destroy you.”

NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE: It takes a certain kind of evil to completely not care about your children and basically actively try to murder them. Also, she’s a woman. We don’t get many evil female villains, in my experience.

VILLAIN RATING: 8/10, if only because she actually enjoys inflicting pain and torture to others and doesn’t need a higher goal to achieve that.

5) Adolf Hitler (Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin)

Wolf by WolfAccording to the stories, when the führer first announced his vision of an occupied Africa and Europe to his generals, some of them had laughed. “Impossible,” they’d said. “It can’t be done.” But the word impossible held no sway over a man like Hitler. He sent his armies marching across Europe anyway; his ruthless SS troops ignored all “civilized” rules of war, mowing down soldiers and civilians alike.


VILLAIN RATING: 10/10! I mean, tbh I don’t actually remember what fictional!Hitler did in this book but I’m assuming he stays relatively true to history.

6) The Emperor (The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski)

The Winner's Curse Marie Rutsoki“Careful, Kestrel,” said the emperor. “You can of course be yourself around me. There is no need to hide anything. But society won’t understand such obvious happiness on your face, not when your father’s been injured.”

NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE: The Emperor is so manipulative, so intelligent, and honestly, so terrifying. Nothing escapes his watchful eyes, and even when he’s being kind, you know he’s being kind for his own good rather than yours.

VILLAIN RATING: 8/10. Pretty scary stuff, really — I wasn’t convinced our protagonists would make it out alive, especially given how sneaky he is.

7) Elders (The Impostor Queen – Sarah Fine)

The Impostor Queen

“Our lives aren’t ours, darling,” she murmured. “We are only the caretakers of this magic. We don’t use it to protect ourselves – we use it only to protect the Kupari. They call us queens, but what we really are is servants.”

NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE: What kind of power-hungry bastards would let teenage girls bear all the literal pain and torture of the world for them and make that the status quo? These ones.

VILLAIN RATING: 7/10. The things they put the protagonist through just so they could get what they want honestly made me flinch when I read this book.

8) Amy (Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn)

Gone Girl“I know women whose entire personas are woven from a benign mediocrity. Their lives are a list of shortcomings: the unappreciative boyfriend, the extra ten pounds, the dismissive boss, the conniving sister, the straying husband. I’ve always hovered above their stories, nodding in sympathy and thinking how foolish they are, these women, to let these things happen, how undisciplined. And now to be one of them! One of the women with the endless stories that make people nod sympathetically and think: Poor dumb bitch.”

NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE: She’s a psycho, you guys.

VILLAIN RATING: 6/10. As long as you don’t cross her path, you’d likely be safe. Just don’t get close.

9) The Witches (The Witches – Roald Dahl)

the-witches-roald-dahlIn fairy-tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and they ride on broomsticks. But this is not a fairy-tale. This is about Real Witches. The most important thing you should know about Real Witches is this. Listen very carefully. Never forget what is coming next.

Real Witches dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and work in Ordinary Jobs. That is why they are so hard to catch. A Real Witch hates children with a red-hot sizzling hatred that is more sizzling and red-hot than any hatred you could possibly imagine.

NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE: I read this book as a kid and was utterly terrified by the thought of a witch who wears gloves, wigs and masks to conceal her claws, baldness and face (in that order) and really, REALLY hates children.

VILLAIN RATING: 8/10 if you’re a kid. Likely 5/10 if you’re an adult, because she’s just not that into you (anymore).

10) King Leck (Graceling – Kristin Cashore)

Graceling“What do you think is wrong with him, Lady Princess?” Patch asked.

Katsa caught a snowflake in the middle of her palm. “What do you mean, wrong with him?”

“Well, why does it pleasure him to hurt people?”

Katsa shrugged. “His Grace makes it so easy.”

“But everyone has some kind of power to hurt people,” Patch said. “It doesn’t mean they do.”

NOTEWORTHY BECAUSE: His powers are so convenient and probably the best out of everyone else’s.

VILLAIN RATING: 8/10. Once you’re under his control, you’d likely be under it forever.

What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments!

81 thoughts on “Top Ten Noteworthy Book Villains

  1. I love how you have both Eli and Victor! One of my favorite things about that book is how you can never tell who’s the real villain as you read.
    Honestly the scariest thing about Adolf Hitler in Wolf by Wolf is that he’s never on the actual page and yet you’re still terrified! I feel like imagining a world in where he lives and rules is absolutely petrifying enough that he doesn’t need to do anything.
    King Leck is fucking crazy as a villain. I love how he shows up in each book in unexpected ways and even after he’s gone, his influence still exists. That was terrifying for me while reading. Great post! 😃


    • I know! I mean, I was 100% rooting for Victor because to me, at least his agenda (revenge) was less… self-righteous, but my BF was all for Eli because Eli’s reasoning (do good for the world) appealed to him more. They’re such well-written characters.

      And exactly. Like, you can feel the hopelessness and how controlled everything was in his reign. What’s more terrifying to me I think is that what you see in the book is likely a very, very small percentage of what actually happened. :/

      I actually don’t remember Leck being in other books at all, but Graceling was the one that left the most impression on me! And I haven’t read Bitterblue yet, oops. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, I’ve never actually known someone who actually rooted for Eli haha. I think it’s sort of innate and persuaded that the reader root for Victor, which I also did, but it’s interesting to see someone go the other way.
        That’s also terrifying! We don’t even get all the horrors of the Holocaust… it’s almost like a constant Holocaust. That thought just made me shiver.
        DUDE! READ BITTERBLUE! It makes so much sense in that book! And he was a little boy in Fire. He met her and everything. Don’t remember which part but yeah, it’s creepy.


        • Yeah, my BF’s a bit of an odd one HAHA. I think he just doesn’t like Victor and needed someone to root for. 😛

          I knooow. I’ve read some accounts on what happened back then and it’s heartbreaking.

          I need to reread both Graceling and Fire before I can read Bitterblue! I’ve forgotten most of that series. Actually, I’ll go reserve it at the library now. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s okay haha that’s kind of the point of the book anyway.
            Yeah, it was such a dark time. We had to read a memoir at school and watch the movie adaptation and I just couldn’t handle it.
            Yes please! This is almost as important as you finishing Poison Study and the rest of the series


              • Night by Eli Wiesel. I don’t know why I find books much easier to cope with than movies. I’m a very visual person and I have a photographic memory so maybe that’s why. If I see something it’s ingrained forever and I didn’t want those images in my head to be honest


  2. The villains in The Impostor Queen sound really intense! I’ve been meaning to read that for soooo long and a quality villain is definitely going to boost it up my tbr.

    Great list! 🙂


  3. I LOVE your villain rating!! That’s an awesome idea. ❤ Also, the quotes are super helpful for the books on your list that I haven't read – makes me want to read them and see what else happens!

    Amy is nutso, but at least the rest of us know we're fine as long as we're not Nick?!? Unlike the Woods…. they were so creeeeeeepppppyyyyy.


    • Thanks, Becca! Highly recommend many of these books, especially Vicious because IT’S SO GOOD. And yeah, the Woods were just soooo creepy.

      So true about Nick. As long as we don’t get in Amy’s way, I think we’re fine. 😛


    • I actually didn’t see Kestrel’s father as a villain at all – like sure, he did evil things, but if you flip it around and tell it from his eyes, then Arin and Kestrel are the ones who did the evil things. Do you see him as a villain? Maybe that’s just me. 🤔


  4. Yes yes I would be surprised if Hitler wasn’t a 10/10 LOL. I really need to read Uprooted (The Wood sounds interesting, and scary), and also Vicious. And hahah I read The Witches when I was in second grade (or it was read to me). I wasn’t too scared of them, I was a brave second grader 😛


    • I highly recommend both Uprooted and Vicious! Both really great books, though in different ways… and I think Vicious is more universally liked, haha.

      You brave person you. I still am easily spooked – I just watched Miss Peregrine and some of the visuals still haunt me at night. 🙈


  5. I really love Victor and Eli. Their rivalry, if you can call that rivalry, really made Vicious for me. I think the ending was perfect too. I’m hoping that the sequel will explore other characters in the same world, but I wouldn’t say no to more of the same characters.


    • I think their rivalry is the number one factor that MAKES the book! If not for that, I think the book will be more boring. 😛

      Ahhh I know. I actually think the ending in Vicious is PERFECT, but I wouldn’t mind exploring some other EOs and their powers.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great picks for this week Reg! I think if I’d have done a TTT for this week’s theme I would have had to include Victor and Eli somewhere, they are such amazing characters just because both of them can technically be classed as the villain of the story, even though Eli assumes what he is doing is god’s work. Also I completely agree with you about the King and Queen from Red Queen, as villains go they just seemed really detached from what was actually happening and not real at all.
    I’m glad to see Uprooted and The Imposter Queen on your list as well! Both are books I need to read soon and both are ones I want to get around to even quicker now! 😀


  7. I New to your blog and already loving it! I just read An Ember in the Ashes and I feel that the Commandant is the most puzzling villain I’ve ever seen in books. I don’t understand how she’s gotten so evil and corrupt and unfeeling in any way! Even the Nightbringer had more compassion than her and he isn’t even human. 😐


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