Horror books usually need a strong protagonist and for the brightness of even the brightest hero there must be a villain who is dark enough to dull that heroic light.
Here’s a list of five notable villains in horror reading.
Mr Hyde – Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Robert Lewis Stevenson)
Being the distillation of man’s evil side means that Mr Hyde has the unique quality that he has free run to be a perfect villain with no redeemable qualities. In real life nobody is ever 100% evil but the crafting of this story means that you do not have to suspend your beliefs and simply except that Dr Jekyll’s alter-ego is just plain bad.
A novella written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. It is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde.
The Shark – Jaws (Peter Benchley)
It’s difficult to cast and animal as a villain in literature without the danger that the reader will, on some level, feel sorry for the villain and see them as a victim in their own right (think of the rabid dog in Stephen King’s Cujo).
Even today, few people feel sorry for the black eyed, soulless shark in Jaws despite the fact that sharks are not the dark, evil creatures depicted in the novel.
That being said, the author himself may have felt a little sorry for his shark creation as he reportedly expressed his regret at the bad reputation he single-handedly gave the entire genus.
It was just another day in the life of a small Atlantic resort until the terror from the deep came to prey on unwary holiday makers. The first sign of trouble – a warning of what was to come – took the form of a young woman’s body, or what was left of it, washed up on the long, white stretch of beach . . .
A summer of terror has begun.
Norman Bates – Psycho (Robert Bloch)
The awkward unsettling nature of Norman Bates screamed his craziness but his victims simply chose to ignore it while the reader squirmed, knowing the hapless victim’s days were numbered unless they woke up to the fact Bates was as crazy as a box full of monkeys.
Norman’s love for his mother would make Oedipus blush while he retained a hatred for what she ‘made’ him do. It’s a complex issue dealt with in a terrifying fashion in the wonderfully constructed book which surpasses any movie – yes, even the Hitchcock classic.
Marion is lost on a dark and lonely road; she’s tired and hungry and afraid. She thinks she’s dreaming when she sees a motel sign shining in the darkness: Bates Motel. But for Marion the nightmare is just beginning …
To most people Psycho needs no introduction, but although Alfred Hitchcock’s film was largely faithful to the book, in the novel itself you will find a story more nuanced and – if possible – even darker.
The Incubus – Incubus (Ray Russell)
The dark presence haunting the town of Galen in this Ray Russell book terrified and intrigued me greatly. Using sex as a way to dispatch its victims was both unique and titillating at the same time.
The incubus has the key quality of a good horror villain in that we want to see more of them while at the same time we dread seeing more of them.
Galen is an ordinary, peaceful small town. Until horrendous terror strikes … and strikes again and again, each time claiming a female victim in a fashion too hideous to contemplate. Julian Trask, student of the occult, is used to thinking the unthinkable. As he works towards the solution of the soul-searing mystery, Galen trembles in mortal dread. For no woman is safe from the lethal lust of THE INCUBUS.
Annie Wilkes – Misery (Stephen King)
Annie Wilkes illustrates perfectly the fine line we tread when an attraction turns into an obsession. It only becomes a problem when our obsession is not welcomed but the subject of our fascination.
It also shows how a person can create a relationship with another in their own mind and when it is left unchecked long enough that perception we create can become all-consuming and unwavering.
King’s Classic bestseller about a famous novelist held hostage by his Number One Fan.
Misery Chastain is dead. Paul Sheldon has just killed her – with relief, with joy. Misery has made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wants to get on to some real writing.
That’s when the car accident happens, and he wakes up in pain in a strange bed. But it isn’t hospital. Annie Wilkes has pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs.
The good news is that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news is that she has long been Paul’s Number One Fan. And when she finds out what Paul had done to Misery, she doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like it at all.
Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now he’s writing to stay alive.
*Taken from Amazon.co.uk
**Taken from Goodreads.com
© Colin Lawson Books