Hello, people of the internet!
I have something to admit – I love reading books with villains. But not just villains that are pure evil – they are either complex, have good characteristics as well as bad or are just simply unpredictable. Some of my favourite book characters are villains. They make me think about them, like how they became that way, for example. In some cases, without the villains, there are no stories to be told.
In fiction, one can appreciate villains. So, here are my top 5 favourite book villains!
Also, prepare for some spoiler alerts for 1984, Coraline, Misery, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Psycho as I go into some detail about the plot as well as the characters.
Before I begin, this particular list involves villains who I was not only scared of, but found that they really added to the enjoyment and appreciation of the book. There are villains that I hate, not because they were awfully written, but because of how nasty they were. They are meant for a different list entirely.
1984 by George Orwell
For those who don’t know, I love 1984. It is one of my favourite classics of all time! I should dedicate a whole post to it at some point. And one of the many reasons why I love 1984 is O’Brien. O’Brien originally seems to be a member of the resistance against the totalitarian government and Big Brother. But this was all a trap to arrest Winston and his lover Julia, who plan to fight against the government. The way he behaves towards Winston after he is arrested is strangely intimate, in that there was a connection between him and Winston on an intellectual level, even as he is brutally torturing Winston in order to “cure” him. He is incredibly mysterious as well as cunning. He manipulates Winston into thinking in the restricted way the party wants him to think, even believing that 2 + 2 = 5 because the party says it is. O’Brien is a chilling villain and it completely shocked me when it was revealed that O’Brien was working alongside the party all along because he completely fooled me!
4) Annie Wilkes
Misery by Stephen King
It is every celebrity’s nightmare: to be trapped in a crazy fan’s home who adores you, but will not let you go. When Paul Sheldon, who is a famous writer of a romance series involving a character called Misery Chastain, is involved in a car accident, a fan of his books called Annie Wilkes finds him and brings him back to her home where she looks after him. But when Annie reads his latest Misery book, where Paul has Misery killed off, Annie is furious and forces Paul to write a new novel to bring Misery back to life. I first read Misery about two years ago. Annie Wilkes scares me: one minute she is friendly, bubbly and excitable, next minute she is in a violent rage. She refused to let Paul go and punishes him severely if he goes against her wishes, going as far as to chop off his foot!!! She is crazy and unstable. I couldn’t predict what she’ll do next. She is definitely one of my favourite Stephen King villains!
3) The White Witch
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
I read this series when I was young after seeing the 1988 BBC television film version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and I love those books still to this day. It introduced me to the fantasy genre and a fantastic villain – the white witch. She is ruthless and is determined to kill four children just to keep her power and control over Narnia. I was terrified of her as a child and even as an adult, there is something about her that puts me on edge. She turns her enemies into stone – stone! That creeps me out! She is a fantastic villain to work against the noble Aslan the lion. If anything, she is one of my favourite book villains of my childhood.
2) Norman Bates
Psycho by Robert Bloch
When Mary Crane steals $40,000, she stays in a motel run by Norman Bates, who is dominated by his over-bearing, emotionally abusive mother. Later that night, Mary is murdered by what appears to be an old woman. After Mary’s sister reports her missing and a private investigator sent to find her is also murdered at the Bates residence by the same old woman figure, it turns out Norman’s mother has been dead for several years after she was murdered by Norman in a jealous rage. Norman has been keeping her body in his house. Norman is also revealed to be the killer as he has dissociative identity disorder and he dresses up in his mother’s clothing. His past involving his mother is revealed at the end of this book and it really adds a creepiness as well as a tragedy factor to his character. It may not be a very sympathetic representation of mental illness, but the fact he was emotional abused by his mother did add some sympathy towards his character. There is a reason why Norman Bates is still talked about to this day: his character and unsettling relationship with his mother is complex.
1) The Other Mother
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
When I read the book about eight years ago, I have reread the novella quite a few times since then. I love the book to pieces as it was technically the first horror book that actually scared me. When Coraline moves into a new home with her parents, she finds a mysterious door that leads her into the Other World where her Other parents and her Other neighbours are more caring, and more fun – everything about this world is better than the real world – but they have button for eyes. It turns out the Other World is a trap created by the Other Mother, who wants to keep Coraline in the Other World forever by sewing buttons over her eyes. She is very attentive towards Coraline and indeed does love her, but there is a hint of creepiness about her as she only loves her as a possession, not as a daughter. The moment that scared me though was when the three ghost children were revealed: they are the previous victims of the Other Mother and they let her sew button over their eyes; but the Other Mother grew bored of them and she let them die, but because she stole their souls, they have been trapped in the Other World for at least a hundred years! Throughout the entire book, I cheered on Coraline to escape the Other Mother and the dangers in the Other World.
For someone who is still not scared by horror book, the fact that the Other Mother scared me is the reason why she is my favourite book villain.
And those were my personal favourite book villains! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Who are your favourite villains?
Thank you for reading!