Come Over to the Dark Side: Three Chilling Novels Told Through the Villain’s Eyes


Reprinted with permission from by

Sure, we all root for the good guys. But sometimes, a villain’s point of view is what makes a novel extra fascinating. Alex Lake, author of the new psychological thriller After Anna, knows this to be true. In After Anna, a young girl is abducted, and then returned to her family just days later. Troublingly, she remembers absolutely nothing about her time with her captor. The book switches perspectives between the kidnapper and Anna’s mother, giving the reader a frightening look into the mind of the person who took Anna and what happened to her while she was missing. Here, Lake shares with Bookish readers his favorite books narrated by villains.

annaThe point of view of the villain is a feature of many books that I have enjoyed—if enjoyed is the right word—over the years. Sometimes it is the only point of view we have, sometimes it is mixed with other points of view, but either way, done well it is a powerful tool: It can make us uncomfortable (the head of a sociopath or villain is not necessarily a pleasant place to be) but it can also be very compelling. Here are some of the best I’ve read.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Graham Greene described Patricia Highsmith as “the poet of apprehension” which beautifully captures the air of suspense that pervades her books. In a Highsmith novel, normal life is turned into something profoundly unsettling. With Ripley this is writ large: He is completely amoral and will kill, steal, and lie to get what he wants, but—unnervingly—he is also very charming. We see his appalling and abhorrent actions from his point of view, and we are seduced into taking his side. Even though what he is doing is unacceptable, because we are witnessing it through his eyes, we get how it all makes sense. For Ripley, what he does is the only logical way to proceed if he is to get what he wants. The Talented Mr Ripley is a glimpse into the mind of psychopath and it is utterly irresistible and chilling.


Monster Love

This is a profoundly disturbing book, which has stayed with me since I read it a few years back. We learn early (so I don’t think I am giving anything away here) that Samantha, infant daughter of Sherilyn and Brendan, has been locked away and starved to death. What follows is the explanation of this, told from multiple points of view—the police officer who finds Samantha’s corpse, other community members—as well as from Sherilyn and Brendan’s. They, it turns out, are psychopaths who have found each other and made a neat and ordered life together. Then Samantha unexpectedly comes along.  She is unwanted and so, with total callousness, they kill her.

Sherilyn and Brendan are an odd couple. They are very tight, closely entwined with one another, and Carol Topolski highlights this with a clever narrative trick: By the end of the novel we no longer have separate points of view for them, we have only one, a composite of them both named Brendalyn. It is a neat way of giving us a window into their strange and deeply unpleasant world.

Daddy Love

This book is so unsettling that parts of it are almost impossible to read. Chester Cash, who calls himself Daddy Love, imprisons young boys, brainwashes them into thinking of him as their father, and abuses them for years until he tires of them, when they disappear. We follow the abduction and imprisonment of a five year-old victim, seeing the events from many points of view: the victim, the victim’s mother, and Daddy Love. Daddy Love is monstrous: cold, abusive, grandiose, and utterly indifferent to the suffering of others. As I mentioned, there are scenes that are hard to read, but Joyce Carol Oates does give a genuine insight into the mind of this horrendous villain.

So there are a few books that take us into the mind of a villain! Both Monster Love and Daddy Love pull no punches about their antagonists: They are abhorrent, and we are meant to be—and are—thoroughly repelled by their actions. Ripley, on the other hand, is a more complicated creation. His charm seduces us, and we are left wondering why and how we end up having sympathy for him. In some ways, the fact that this ambiguity is possible is the most disturbing thing of all.



Similar Articles




Recent Book Trailers



Don't Miss

SNEAK PEEK: Death of an Irish Mummy by Catie Murphy

Death of an Irish Mummy by Catie Murphy Squiring a self-proclaimed heiress around Dublin has got limo driver Megan Malone’s Irish up—until she finds the...

The Ailing Nation: Lessons from the Bedside for America’s Leaders Book Trailer

0   The Ailing Nation: Lessons From the Bedside for America's Leaders by Dr. Nate Link Prominent NY Doctor Diagnoses Decades of Failure in US Politics in...

Inside story of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to be published by St. Martin’s Press

It was announced today that the inside story of the first vaccine in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic will be told in...


Columbia University today announces the 2021 Pulitzer Prizes, awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board. For more information on this year’s Prize finalists and...

The Lost Feehan Trailers – Dark Melody, Dark Secret and Magic in the Wind

It's always exciting to watch book trailers and no author is more well-known for her trailers as Christine Feehan whose Dark Symphony book trailer...

100 Worst Ideas Hilarious Audiobook Celebrates Humanity’s Horrible Ideas

New Laugh-Out-Loud Audiobook Celebrates Humanity’s Historical, Hysterical Stinkin’ Thinkin’ and Its Impact on Us Today Veteran entertainers bring you history like you’ve never...


AUTHOR'S CELEBRATING FATHER'S DAY --- FEATURING KRISTINE RAYMOND Things My Father Taught Me ~ by Kristine Raymond I had the best dad in the world.  I...


THE BOX IN THE WOODS BY MAUREEN JOHNSON Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s...

Grand Central Publishing to Publish Book By Academy Award Winning Actor Jamie Foxx

Grand Central Publishing to Publish Book By Academy Award Winning Actor Jamie Foxx Grand Central Publishing is excited to announce that Jamie Foxx’s book, ACT LIKE YOU GOT...

Fifty Shades Freed as Told by Christian by E L James Debuts at #1

FREED: Fifty Shades Freed as Told by Christian by E L James Debuts at #1 Across All Major U.S. Bestseller Lists! FREED: Fifty Shades Freed...