Good Minds Suggest—Joe Hill's Favorite Horror Villains

Posted by Goodreads on May 1, 2013
Take deep breaths before visiting horror and suspense writer Joe Hill's violent imagination. You'll find vengeful ghosts hell-bent on destruction, creepy haunted mansions, and characters who just might be the devil himself. Hill's latest novel, NOS4A2, introduces the particularly twisted Charles Manx, a fiend who lures children to a fantasy realm where it's Christmas every day. What actually awaits them is decidedly not in the holiday spirit—as heroine Victoria McQueen knows; she's the only child to ever escape Christmasland and the only one with power who could best Manx.

Hill, who is also the author of Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and the graphic novel series Locke and Key, tells Goodreads about the most spellbinding villains he knows. He picks characters "who have burned bright in my thoughts, over who-knows-how-many hours of late-night reading. This is my personal best of the worst: five inspired sickos with the power to walk right off the page and into your nightmares. I've skipped the most obvious choices...the folks in my own Hall of Pain are still pretty (in)famous, but perhaps haven't yet fully received the dark honors that are their due."

Mr. Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
"One source of Christmasland was Pleasure Island from Pinocchio, a place where bad little boys indulge their worst habits until they are magically transformed into braying donkeys. But the other inspiration was, of course, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, the terrifying traveling carnival at the heart of Ray Bradbury's seduction of the innocent, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Mr. Dark promises pleasure, escape, and amusement, but the cost is high: your freedom, your childhood, your sanity, perhaps your soul. No one buys a ticket to Mr. Dark's carnival and comes back undamaged."

Anton Chigur in No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
"Chigur is the rangy, clear-eyed hit man who lopes through Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men using a captive bolt pistol—a kind of pneumatic nail gun designed to punch in a cow's skull—to settle up with everyone who crosses him (as well as a few folks who just have the bad luck to be in his way). Chigur's unusual gun was what convinced me that Charlie Manx needed an iconic weapon of his own...hence Charlie's shiny silver autopsy mallet. McCarthy's relentless assassin-for-hire views himself less as a man, more as a kind of cosmic roulette wheel; if the ball settles on black, he has to kill you, even if your death will serve no logical purpose. Chigur feels there's a principle to uphold and that principle is simply this: The universe can't be bargained with. When your fate is decided, you have no more choice than a heifer in the chute being led to the abattoir."

Abbot Enomoto in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
"Like Moriarty, Abbot Enomoto is the spider at the center of a vast web of power and influence and crime; like Dracula, the holy abbot of Mount Shiranui is (maybe) an immortal who has survived for centuries by feeding on the blood (and spirits) of the weak. Abbot Enomoto casts his long, cold shadow over the entirety of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the tale of a young Dutchman swimming in the unfamiliar seas of Edo-era Japan and finding himself vastly overmatched by an evil beyond comprehension. I confess that Thousand Autumns is my favorite novel of all time—I've read it over and over since I first discovered it—and I keep finding new layers to the unsettling and ageless abbot. Here he is killing a snake with a touch. There he is speaking in archaic Spanish, half-remembered from when the Spaniards visited Japan an age before. With some bad guys—think Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader—familiarity ruins their power. Lecter was terrifying when we first encountered him in Red Dragon (where he appears for just a few chapters) but has become steadily less dreadful the more we've learned about him; and as for Vader, his backstory transformed him from the baddest dude in the galaxy to a whiny, pathetic teenager with mommy issues. But with Enomoto, the more you find out, the more afraid you become. This guy would eat Hannibal Lecter for breakfast, sans fava beans, and use Vader's helmet as his chamber pot."

Amazing Amy Dunne in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Goodreads Author)
"Give it up for the relentlessly chippy star of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, Amy Dunne, who is like the charming, preppy, wickedly smart heroine of Clueless...if the Clueless gal was a laughing psychopath. Control freak Amy has ice water for blood, the soul of a maniacal wedding planner, and the heart of a crocodile. Most of all, though, Amy has STANDARDS. She has certain expectations of (a) her parents, (b) her home, (c) the world, (d) that no-good slob, her husband. Did you ever read the fairy tale about the innkeeper with just one bed? If you're too long to fit, she lops off your feet. If you're too short, she buckles you into her rack and gives your spine a nice little streee-e-e-e-etch. Amy is that innkeeper; the bed is her life, the last damn place you would ever want to rest your head."

Ursula Monkton in The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Goodreads Author)
"OK, so this last one is a bit of a mean tease, because at the time of this writing, Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is still unreleased. So you can't read yet about Lettie Hempstock and the boy who goes with her into a country just beyond her farmstead, where reality has a habit of sliding away underfoot like so much soaked earth. And you can't read about the thing that follows them back into our world, a thing that only wants to help people, to make them happy, to give them money and feed them well and offer them sex if that's what they want, a thing that looks like a woman sometimes, and other times resembles a monster made of rotting canvas and shadow. In Ursula Monkton, Neil Gaiman has created a kind of anti-Mary Poppins, a monster with manners. She's poison in a spoonful of sugar (I understand it helps the medicine go down)."

Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Best Villains

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

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message 1: by Buddy (new)

Buddy Jackson Although I read 3-4 novels a week, I've somehow miss on selecting "the son of King"'s work
Not sure I'm wanting to.
Maybe I'll do a Barnes & Noble preview to try to get a handle on him.
After Sir Steven became so vocal politically I hated my self for thoroughly enjoying his, 1962?, (JFK time travel) novel. Hope his son is A), as creative as he is and B), once he "makes" it, he had the good sense to keep his trap shut about issues that could very well polarize 1/2 of his cash spending public!

message 2: by Georgene (new)

Georgene I just bought "NOS4A2" today. I've recently read his "20th Century Ghosts", which I mostly enjoyed. As with most volumes of short stories, some I liked, some not so much. But I REMEMBER his stories, which is something that doesn't always happen. I'm not much of a fan of horror stories, so I will have to see how much I like "NOS4A2". As for Hill being "the son of King", he must stand or fall on his own merits. So far, having only read "20th Century Ghosts", he stands tall.

message 3: by Colleen (new)

Colleen I started with 20th Century Ghosts. The stories were very creative and diverse - it's nice to read short stories that aren't all the same. It wasn't until after I purchased Heart Shaped Box that I learned Hill was King's son. I'd recommend everything he's written to anyone I know - they're all bound to find something they each will like.

message 4: by Steve (new)

Steve Corso Buddy wrote: "Although I read 3-4 novels a week, I've somehow miss on selecting "the son of King"'s work
Not sure I'm wanting to.
Maybe I'll do a Barnes & Noble preview to try to get a handle on him.
After Sir S..."

My understanding is that Mr. King's son had a great deal to do with 11/22/63's ending, the best ending to a King book in decades, so you might want to consider that as well.

message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Blanchfield Who gives a shite about politics, if you ae reading a good book you dont say im ashamed to read `the shining` because Stephen King doesnt share my politcal views and furthermore he actually expresses his views. What an ass you must be if thats what you do!

message 6: by Char (new)

Char Joe Hill's work stands just fine on its own. He doesn't need to be compared to his father all the time. He isn't writing anything political. Why hold him responsible for his father's views?

He is his own man and it shows in his work, imho.I thought that Heart Shaped Box and Horns were both excellent, original stories. I hope this one is too. :)

message 7: by Tony (new)

Tony Sherman Actually, his novels "Heart-Shaped Box" and "Horns" are really really good. (Also give props to his comic series, "Locke and Key.") I'm looking forward to "NOS4A2." He is a different writer then his dad. I think Joe Hill is a bit more lyrical

message 8: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra Connor Buddy wrote: "Although I read 3-4 novels a week, I've somehow miss on selecting "the son of King"'s work
Not sure I'm wanting to.
Maybe I'll do a Barnes & Noble preview to try to get a handle on him.
After Sir S..."

He's actually amazing. I can't read King Senior's work at all, but Joe's is absolutely standout if you like horror. He's witty, fast paced, blood chilling and his stuff will linger with you. I haven't been able to put down anything of his I picked up.

message 9: by Todd (new)

Todd Folstad With this being a discussion of Evil Characters, and so many folks talking about the "Kings", why not add one of his nastiest to the list ~ Pennywise the Clown from "IT". I didn't really care for clowns much before that book, now I downright avoid them!!!

message 10: by Amy (last edited May 05, 2013 05:02AM) (new)

Amy Here! Here! Todd! Most terrifying Pennywise scared the beejesus out of me ! I too have never loved clowns and Pennywise is the epitome of a childhood villain. Everytime my bathroom sink drain gurgled I ran from it, lol . Also, "Joe Hill" maybe cut from the same creative cloth as his dad, he is a fabulous writer in his own right. Although I do understand being put off by some authors political/religous views. Orson Scott cards rl views make me just plain shudder and wanting to drag him into the 21st century. Unfortunatley I have to read his works, ilove them so much. Sigh.

message 11: by Michael (new)


message 12: by Amy (last edited May 05, 2013 06:38PM) (new)

Amy Ok yes shes pretty scary too! Lol
Ps. Dont understand why politics has anything to do with liking someones books.

message 13: by Chinch (new)

Chinch Justin wrote: "I feel sorry for people who can't just enjoy a good book or a great song or an engaging film without dragging politics into everything."


message 14: by Chauncey (new)

Chauncey I finished NOS4A2 last week and my absolute favorite thing about this book was the "shout-outs" to Stephen King's work (there' only two). I loved it, but I first read Joe Hill in a zombie book and read Horns. I did not know he was any relation to Stephen King until after this. They are very different authors and I enjoy both.

message 15: by Margie (last edited May 06, 2013 11:09AM) (new)

Margie you won't regret reading mr hill's books. i promise!

message 16: by Mary (new)

Mary Kelly I really liked Heart Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts but not Horns so was not sure how I would feel about NOS4A2. Picked it up Friday and finished is last night. Found it a little hard to get into at first but then a very good read. His writing is very different than King but they both use a lot of pop cultural references- which I like-- especially in this book. Chubby Sci-Fi geeks may especially like this book.

message 17: by Karen (new)

Karen Elliott I just read NOS4A2 over the weekend. Parts dragged just a little at first, then it was non-stop. Really enjoyed it.

message 18: by Donna (new)

Donna Bijas Pennywise in IT. Flagg in The Stand.

message 19: by Jesse (new)

Jesse Smith Buddy wrote: "Although I read 3-4 novels a week, I've somehow miss on selecting "the son of King"'s work
Not sure I'm wanting to.
Maybe I'll do a Barnes & Noble preview to try to get a handle on him.
After Sir S..."

You hate yourself for enjoying King's work because you don't share the same opinions? Congratulations, you are a fucking idiot.

message 20: by Billie (new)

Billie Joe Hill's "Horns" is one of my favorite books of all time - and I am a horror lover. Great plot, character development, storyline. Loved it.

"Favorite" villain? The Walking Dude, Randall Flagg, from King's "The Stand." No villain (book OR movie) ever interrupted my dreams/nightmares as much. He's a scary, scary man.

message 21: by Georgene (new)

Georgene I'm currently reading "Horn". I picked it up last night while waiting for Joe Hill's book signing at Powell's Books. He's an interesting speaker and my son & I enjoyed the experience very much. Afterwards, there was a HUGE line for Hill to sign their books. We were at the end of the line, but that was fine as Mr. Hill took a bit of time with each and every fan! He personalized one autograph to me, then added to the one signed copy of NOS4A2. All in all, a very enjoyable experience.

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