Are you a fan of young adult fantasy literature? Are you tired of the same old goody-two-shoes love interests? Look no further! In this post, we’ve compiled a list of 15 YA fantasy books that feature villains as love interests. These books will take you on a thrilling journey of love, adventure, and danger with some of the most wickedly charming characters in fantasy literature.
From immortal assassins to sea witches, these fantasy books with villain love interests will keep you on the edge of your seat. The villainous characters in these books are not your typical bad guys, they have mysterious pasts and own their villainy. They are complex, alluring and will leave you rooting for them despite their questionable actions.
In this post, I’ve rounded up 15 young adult fantasy books that feature villains as love interests. From sea witches to immortal assassins, these books will take you on a wild ride of love, adventure, and danger.
Here are 15 incredible YA fantasy books with villains as love interests:
- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: The Darkling, the powerful leader of the Grisha, becomes the love interest of Alina, a young girl with a unique power.
- An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: Laia, is a slave who becomes involved with the resistance against the ruling empire, falls in love with Elias, the empire’s deadliest soldier.
- A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest: Derek Novak, the ancient vampire prince who kidnaps Sofia Claremont, eventually falls in love with her.
- The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller: The Shadow King, a mysterious and dangerous figure, becomes the love interest of Alessandra, a cunning and ambitious woman.
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: Akiva, an angel who is part of a group who are hunting down the Chimaera, falls in love with Karou, a Chimaera who is caught in the middle of the conflict.
- The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle: Marak, the Goblin King who kidnaps Kate, eventually falls in love with her.
- Captured by Erica Stevens: Braith, a powerful vampire who captures Aria, eventually falls in love with her.
- The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: Khalid, the Caliph who marries and kills a new bride every night, becomes the love interest of Shahrzad, a young woman seeking revenge.
- We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal: Altair, the leader of the Arz, becomes the love interest of Zafira, a skilled hunter trying to retrieve a powerful artifact.
- Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde: The vampire who kidnaps Kerry eventually becomes her love interest.
- Renegades by Marissa Meyer: Nova, a member of the villainous Anarchists, falls in love with Adrian, a member of the heroic Renegades.
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: Inan, the prince who is hunting down magic wielders, becomes the love interest of Zélie, a magic wielder who is trying to restore magic to her people.
- To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: Prince Elian, a siren hunter, falls in love with Lira, a siren who is trying to prove herself to her mother, the Sea Queen.
- Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian: Søren, the Kaiser’s warrior son, becomes the love interest of Theodosia, a princess who is seeking revenge against the Kaiser.
- A Deal With the Elf King by Elise Kova: The Elf King, a mysterious and powerful figure, becomes the love interest of Luella, a young woman who makes a deal with him to save her family.
Ready to learn more about any one of these books? If so, read on to hear more thorough descriptions and reader reactions.
Whether you’re a fan of classic fantasy or you’re looking for something new and exciting, there’s something on this list for everyone. So without further ado, let’s dive in and discover some of the most wickedly charming characters in young adult fantasy!
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Goodreads Rating: 3.95/5.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is a must-read for fans of young adult fantasy literature. Set in a war-torn world where the fate of the kingdom rests on the shoulders of a lowly orphan, this novel is filled with action, adventure, and a villainous love interest that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The story follows Alina Starkov, a soldiers in the army of the kingdom, who discovers she possesses a rare power to summon light and summon protection. This revelation throws her into a dangerous world of politics and war, where she must navigate through the dangerous powers that be and the mysterious Darkling, who serves as the series main villain and love interest.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is a perfect read for those looking for a thrilling fantasy adventure with a touch of romance. The story, the characters, and the world-building are all top-notch, and it’s sure to be a favorite for fans of fantasy novels. The series become very popular on Netflix as a TV series too, with a strong fanbase.
In summary, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is an incredible fantasy book, ideal for fans of YA literature and fantasy genre. The story features a powerful and relatable protagonist, an engaging love interest, and an immersive world that will leave readers wanting more. The book is an excellent start to a series that features the perfect balance of action, romance, and political intrigue.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Goodreads Rating: 4.26/5
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is a stunning debut fantasy novel that immerses readers in a brutal and oppressive empire where the main character, Laia, is a slave who becomes involved with the resistance against the ruling empire. Laia is a strong and determined character who is willing to risk everything for her freedom and the freedom of her people.
As Laia becomes more entrenched in the resistance, she meets Elias, a soldier and the empire’s deadliest weapon, who becomes her love interest despite being on opposite sides of the conflict. This creates an intense and emotional love story where Laia and Elias are constantly torn between their feelings for each other and their obligations to their respective sides.
As Laia and Elias grow closer, they must confront the fact that they may have to choose between their love and their morals. This conflict adds an extra layer of complexity and tension to the story, leaving readers wondering what will happen.
The book is also filled with action, adventure, and political intrigue that keeps the story moving at a fast pace. Overall, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is a must-read for fans of YA fantasy literature. The story is filled with action, adventure, and political intrigue, with a gripping love story between Laia and Elias that will take readers on a journey filled with danger, love and difficult choices.
A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest
Goodreads Rating: 3.85/5.
A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest is a must-read for fans of fantasy books with villain love interests. The series features a thrilling and captivating love story between the main character, Sofia, and Derek, a handsome and mysterious vampire who is also a ruthless killer.
As Sofia is drawn into the supernatural world filled with vampires, werewolves, and other dangerous creatures, she must navigate through the dangers and politics of this new world. As she gets closer to Derek, she must decide if she can forgive Derek’s past actions and trust him with her heart.
The book not only offers a unique and engaging love story, but it also immerses the reader in a richly-detailed and fantastical world of supernatural creatures. The story is full of action, adventure and a hint of the forbidden romance that will keep readers hooked from start to finish.
Derek, the love interest in the story, is a complex and alluring villain, who despite his past actions, will leave readers rooting for him. The series becomes a best-seller with a huge fanbase and also available on many streaming services.
In summary, A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest is an excellent choice for those looking for a fantasy book with a villain love interest. The series features a unique and engaging love story, richly-detailed world-building, and complex characters that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. If you’re looking for a thrilling and captivating read, A Shade of Vampire is a must-read.
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
Goodreads Rating: 3.87/5.
The Shadows Between Us is a gripping and well-paced story that follows the journey of Alessandra, a young woman who is determined to achieve power and status in a world where women are often overlooked and undervalued. Alessandra is a master manipulator and strategist, and she sets her sights on the Shadow King, a powerful and mysterious figure who rules the kingdom of the night.
Alessandra’s plan is to seduce the Shadow King, marry him, and then kill him, thus gaining control of his kingdom for herself. However, things do not go as planned, and Alessandra finds herself drawn to the enigmatic and compelling Shadow King.
As their relationship develops, both Alessandra and the Shadow King must navigate a complex web of alliances and betrayals, and they soon realize that they have much more in common than they originally thought.
One of the strengths of the novel is its portrayal of strong and complex female characters. Alessandra is a formidable protagonist who is not afraid to use her intelligence, wit, and charm to get what she wants. She is confident, ambitious, and unapologetic about her desires, which makes her a refreshing and empowering character to read about. The Shadow King, on the other hand, is a mysterious and alluring figure who is both powerful and vulnerable at the same time.
The book is also notable for its unique take on the villain love interest trope. Alessandra and the Shadow King are both morally ambiguous characters, and their relationship is built on a foundation of mutual respect, admiration, and ambition.
They are not your typical starry-eyed lovers, but rather two individuals who are trying to outmaneuver each other and achieve their own goals. The tension between them is palpable, and readers will be invested in their story from beginning to end.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Goodreads Rating: 3.95/5
In Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou is a young art student who is hiding a secret: she is the daughter of a group of demons who are at war with a group of angels. Karou falls in love with Akiva, an angel who is sworn to kill her kind, and must navigate the dangerous and forbidden nature of their relationship.
As the two try to find a way to be together, they must also confront the fact that their love may bring about the end of the world.
Overall, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is a beautifully crafted and immersive fantasy series that explores the complexities of love and war in a unique and compelling way. It is a must-read for anyone who loves well-developed characters, intricate world-building, and a touch of romance and intrigue.
The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle
Goodreads Rating: 4.08/5
Next on our list of YA fantasy books with villain love interests is The Hollow Kingdom. Kate is a young princess who is kidnapped by a group of goblins and taken to their kingdom in the center of the earth. She is initially terrified and repulsed by the goblins and their way of life, but as she spends more time in their world, she begins to see that they are not all as monstrous as she thought.
One goblin in particular catches Kate’s attention: Gethin, the goblin king. Despite the hostility between their two worlds, Kate and Gethin are drawn to each other and a deep and complicated romance begins to develop between them. Kate must decide whether she can trust Gethin and risk everything to be with him, even as the world around her threatens to tear them apart.
The book is beautifully written and explores themes of love, trust, and loyalty in a way that will resonate with readers of all ages. Kate is a strong and independent heroine who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, even when it means going against the expectations of her society. Gethin is a complex and multi-layered character who challenges Kate’s assumptions about the goblin world and forces her to confront her own prejudices.
Captured by Erica Stevens
Goodreads Rating: 4.02/5
Captured by Erica Stevens is a thrilling and captivating young adult fantasy series that explores the theme of forbidden love between a human and a vampire. The series follows the story of Chloe, a young woman who is captured by a group of vampires and taken to their underground society.
As Chloe struggles to adapt to her new life, she meets Derek, a powerful and dangerous vampire who becomes her love interest. However, Derek is also the leader of a group of rebels who are fighting against the ruling council of vampires. Chloe must decide if she can trust Derek and join his cause, even if it means going against the council and risking her own life.
One of the strengths of this series is the complexity of its characters. Chloe is a strong and resourceful heroine who refuses to be a victim, even when she is at the mercy of the powerful vampire society. Derek, on the other hand, is a dark and brooding character with a troubled past and a fierce determination to protect his people.
The series also explores themes of power, betrayal, and loyalty, as Chloe and Derek navigate the treacherous world of vampire politics and try to stay alive in a society where humans are seen as nothing more than food. The series is full of action, suspense, and romance, and it will keep readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Goodreads Rating: 4.07/5
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is a captivating young adult fantasy novel that delves into the theme of forbidden love between a protagonist and her villainous love interest. The story centers on Shahrzad, a young woman who volunteers to marry the cruel and dangerous caliph, Khalid, in order to avenge her best friend’s death.
As she begins to get to know Khalid, however, she discovers that there is more to him than his reputation as a ruthless ruler. The relationship between Shahrzad and Khalid is complex and multifaceted, with each character having their own secrets and motivations.
Throughout the novel, Shahrzad must confront the fact that her feelings for Khalid may not be entirely justified, given his past actions. She must grapple with the idea of forgiveness and whether she can truly love someone who has caused so much pain.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a beautifully written story that will appeal to fans of YA fantasy books with a touch of romance and intrigue. The characters are well-developed and the plot is filled with twists and turns that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Ultimately, the novel is a tale of redemption, forgiveness, and the power of love to overcome even the darkest of circumstances.
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Goodreads Rating: 3.92/5
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal is a captivating YA fantasy novel that explores the theme of love between a protagonist and a supposed villain. The story follows Zafira, a young girl who is tasked with retrieving a magical artifact that can restore magic to her land. In her quest, she meets Nasir, a member of the ruling council known as the Coffin King, who is initially portrayed as an enemy responsible for many atrocities committed against the people.
As Zafira and Nasir work together to achieve their goals, they get to know each other and their relationship deepens. Nasir’s past is revealed, and it becomes apparent that he is not entirely evil, and that he too is working towards bringing about change in their world.
The romance between Zafira and Nasir is beautifully written, with the tension between them adding a layer of complexity to the story. The characters are well-developed, and the world-building is intricate, immersing readers in the richly drawn world.
Throughout the novel, Zafira must confront the fact that her feelings for Nasir are complicated, given his past actions. She grapples with the idea of forgiveness and whether she can truly love someone who has caused so much pain.
Overall, We Hunt the Flame is an engaging YA fantasy novel that explores the theme of love between two characters from opposing sides. The story is filled with action, romance, and intrigue, making it a must-read for fans of the genre.
Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde
Goodreads Rating: 3.79/5
Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde is a unique take on the classic vampire story. When Kerry goes to retrieve her brother’s stuffed bear from the laundromat, she gets caught up in a dangerous situation involving vampire hunters and their prey. Along the way, she helps a young man named Ethan, who is actually a vampire, escape.
Kerry is initially frightened of Ethan. However, as they work together to survive and solve the mystery of Ethan’s past, a romantic element develops between them. Vande Velde’s explanation for vampire immortality is particularly interesting, making the story feel realistic despite its fantastical elements.
The book is action-packed and exciting, but may not be suitable for younger readers due to violence. Overall, it’s a must-read for any vampire fans looking for a fresh and modern take on the genre.
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Goodreads Rating: 4.13/5
In Marissa Meyer’s Renegades, readers follow Nova, who initially seeks revenge against the Renegades, a group of heroes who failed to save her family. However, as she gets to know Adrian, a member of the Renegades, she falls in love with him despite his affiliation with the group she’s fighting against.
As Nova learns more about Adrian’s motivations and discovers that the line between heroes and villains isn’t always clear-cut, their relationship becomes more complicated. Together, they work towards creating a better world, even as they struggle with their conflicting loyalties.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is a captivating YA fantasy novel that features a captivating love story between two characters who are initially presented as enemies. The story is set in a fictional land of Orïsha, where magic used to be abundant until it was suppressed by the ruthless monarchy.
The protagonist, Zélie Adebola, is a young divîner, someone who has the potential to use magic. She joins forces with her brother and a rogue princess to restore magic and bring down the oppressive regime that has stripped her people of their rights. Along the way, she meets Inan, the prince and son of the ruthless king, who has been tasked with finding and eliminating all the remaining divîners in the kingdom.
Initially, Zélie and Inan are at odds with each other, and their interactions are fraught with tension and animosity. However, as the story progresses, they are forced to work together and confront their own biases and prejudices.
Zélie discovers that Inan is struggling with his own inner demons and a desire to do what is right, even if it goes against his family’s wishes. They form a bond and begin to develop feelings for each other, even though their backgrounds and loyalties seem to make a relationship between them impossible.
Their relationship adds a layer of complexity to the story, as Zélie must grapple with her growing feelings for someone who represents everything she is fighting against. The tension between them builds as they both struggle with the idea that they may have to choose between each other and their respective causes.
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo is a young adult fantasy novel that features a romance between two characters who are initially on opposite sides, each seeing the other as villains. Lira, the main character, is a siren princess known as the Prince’s Bane, who has been killing princes for centuries. Elian, on the other hand, is a human prince and a feared pirate who hunts sirens.
Despite their initial hostility towards each other, Lira and Elian begin to develop feelings for each other as they are forced to work together to stop a common enemy, the Sea Queen. As they get to know each other better, they learn that they have more in common than they initially thought and begin to question the beliefs and prejudices that have shaped their lives.
The novel is a thrilling adventure story with complex characters and a slow-burning romance that adds to the tension and excitement of the plot.
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Goodreads Rating: 3.88/5
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian is a young adult fantasy novel that tells the story of Theodosia, a young princess whose country is invaded by the Kalovaxians, led by the Kaiser. Theodosia’s mother, the Fire Queen, is killed, and Theodosia is taken captive and forced to live in her own palace as a prisoner. For years, Theodosia is subjected to physical and emotional abuse by the Kaiser and his court, but she refuses to give up hope.
As Theodosia begins to plot her revenge and reclaim her throne, she encounters Prinz Søren, the Kaiser’s warrior son, a love interest who is initially portrayed as a villain. As Theodosia gets to know him, she begins to see his good qualities and may ultimately find herself falling in love with him.
Ash Princess explores themes of power, oppression, and rebellion. It highlights the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of fighting for what is right, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
Theodosia is a strong and resourceful character who is determined to take back what is rightfully hers and restore peace to her kingdom, and readers will be rooting for her every step of the way.
A Deal With the Elf King by Elise Kova
Goodreads Rating: 3.75/5
A Deal With the Elf King by Elise Kova tells the story of Luella, a young woman who is chosen to be the Human Queen of the elves, a role that is considered a death sentence in her village. She is taken to a world filled with magic and becomes the queen to a cold and handsome Elf King, who is portrayed initially as a villain.
As she learns about the dying world that only she can save, she must navigate her feelings for her new home and the people back in her village. Along the way, she finds herself drawn to the Elf King in unexpected ways, despite their initial animosity towards each other.
As Luella tries to save both worlds, she must also confront her own desires and make difficult decisions that will have far-reaching consequences.
If you’re looking for a new type of love story in your fantasy books, give a try to fantasy books with villain love interests. These books are filled with exciting plot, complex characters, and a touch of romance that will keep you hooked until the end. So, take a look at our list of 15 YA fantasy books with villain love interests and find your next reading adventure!