A Tuesday Ten: The Dark Side

Welcome to the dark side.  Here’s a list full of books that showcases a lot of different dark sides.  There’s dark magic.  There’s villainy.  And there are those trying to be dark and wicked and bad but maybe with mixed success. So I invite you to join me for a walk on the dark side.


Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan (Disney-Hyperion, April 2016)

Lilith Shadow is the young ruler of Gehenna, after the rest of her family is killed.  But to save her kingdom and keep it safe, she needs to rediscover the magic of House Shadow, the magic of the undead. That means in a kingdom where girls are forbidden the practice of magic, Lily and her new friend Thorne are going to have to break more than a few rules in order to solve a murder and keep Lily alive!


The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones (Greenwillow, c1998)

Wizard Derk  is sick of Mr. Chesney and his Pilgrim Parties.  Every year  Mr. Chesney brings in visitors from another world for an exciting tourist vacation.  And the Wizard Derk must play dark lord, transforming his pleasant home and lands into something dark and awesomely awful in order to please the evil Mr. Chesney.   But this year things will be different, as  the wizard has a plan to deal with Chesney and the Pilgrim Parties permanently!


Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson (MacMillan, c1979)

Arriman the Awful, feared wizard of the North has announced an intent to marry.  He is looking for a witch of the darkest powers, and will decide his wife by a series of contests.  As the ambitious witches gather with hopes of being the bride, white witch Belladonna finds herself head over heels in love with Arriman.  But she’s a white witch, how can she perform a spell so  black and so evil that it will win the contest?  Perhaps with the help of an unusual familiar.


Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2005)

Cadel Piggott  is a super genius who as a child is already deeply in trouble for hacking the national computer system.  Now at  fourteen, he’s attending the Axis Institute, created  by the nefarious Dr. Phineas Darkkon (who is Cadel’s father and is currenly imprisoned for life). At the school, Cadel learns all sorts of villainy and criminal ways. But all is not as it seems and underneath the super genius exterior there still exists a lonely young boy in search of friends and connection.  Something he’ll find when a chance connection online spurs a secret friendship, will it be enough to break Cadel free of the manipulative  Darkkon? The Genius trilogy continues Cadel’s story in Genius Squad(2008) and Genius Wars (2009).


I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I want to be Your Class President by Josh Lieb (Razorbill, c2009)

A hilarious and wild  tale of 12 year old Oliver Watson.  Everyone knows Oliver is about as bright as a bag of hammers, but what they don’t know is that this is a carefully cultivated disguise for the made evil genius that lurks within.  For Oliver is brilliant and has pulled of amazing schemes and ploys that none of his oblivious classmates or clueless family could even imagine.   But he can’t help wanting to impress his father and when his dad makes a crack about him never being class president, Oliver decides he will take up the challenge.  But making your classmates like you and vote for you is a lot more difficult that commanding minions and criminal enterprises!


Little Miss Evil by Bryce Leung & Kriesty Shen (Spencer Hill, 2015)

‘‘Well, Fiona,’’ Dad says, putting a hand on my shoulder, ‘‘I think there’s an age in every young girl’s life where they need to be able to incinerate whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want.”  Fiona is the daughter of an evil villain mastermind.  She’d grown up inside a volcano hideout and while she’s not particularly crazy about the whole evil thing, he is her dad.  When her father is kidnapped by unknown forces, it’ll be up to Fiona to figure out who’s taken him and where.  And for the record, never annoy a girl with a flamethrower attached to her arm.


The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz (HarperCollins, c2012)

The Cloak Society is an organization of supervillains that is determined to defeat the Rangers of Justice and take over the city, bringing in new order and glory.  Alex Knight has been raised in the organization since birth and fully embraces their ideology and goals while working to develop his own special powers.  Then one day, during a battle with the Rangers of Justice, he saves one of the junior rangers.  And suddenly things are a lot more complicated.  The Cloak Society Trilogy continues with  Villains Rising (2013) and Fall of Heroes (2014).



Sabriel by Garth Nix (HarperCollins, c1995)

Sabriel’s magical talents and training make her an expert at necromancy, the magic of death and the undead.  But unlike most who practice this dark art, she has learned it in order to protect the living and send the dead back where they belong.  Still one of my favorites after all these years and books in between.  In working to control the dark magics and not become entangled in them herself, Sabriel must show a great deal of strength, restraint and courage against the dark forces of her world.


H.I.V.E.: The Higher Institute of Villainous Education by Mark Walden (Simon & Schuster, 2007)

Otto Malpense is an excellent candidate to be handpicked for the most exclusive school of villainy  in the world.  Only the best of the best come to the school.  Only a very few will make it to the top ranks.   Otto may be great villain material, but he isn’t willing to give up his defiant spirit and when he discovers the school has a six-year hold on his life whether he likes it or not, he decides  break out of school.  Just because no one has ever done doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  Together with a few of his talented classmates, Otto is going to go up against the school  and break out–one way or another.


Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon (Dial, c2015)

Castle Hangnail is in need of a new dark master or mistress to own it.  Without a proper owner, the castle will be decommissioned, and all the minions who call it home will have to find new places to live.  When young Molly shows up, she’s not quite anyone’s idea of a dark mistress.  Molly knows it.  She’s knows she’s too young and not talented enough, but she’s desperate for a chance –if only she can keep up the ruse long enough and act wickedly enough to satisfy the minions!

So there’s my ten, please add your own titles in the comments section!  And come to the dark side! We have cookies, after all!


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on August 31, 2016, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. What fun! I love Sabriel and Castle Hangnail, too – and Evil Genius and the Cloak Society both sound particularly interesting. Dark Lord:School’s Out by Jamie Thomson and Minion by John David Anderson would both work for this list, too, I think.

  2. The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman, coming out this September, would be a great entry for the list.

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