Would I rather be eaten by Shere Khan or fed to the crocodiles by Captain Hook? Would I rather be snatched by The Child Catcher or turned to stone by The White Witch? These were the kind of questions that whirled through my head as an eight-year-old. My best friend’s greatest fear was that someone was going to read her diary; mine was that the Fleshlumpeater giant was going to drop round for tea.
Villains from children’s books stay with you long after the last page is turned… And having spent weeks trawling through tribal masks hidden down Zanzibar’s cobbled streets to create my own villain for my debut children’s book, The Dreamsnatcher, I thought I’d dig up 10 more villains in books for 8-12-year-olds to send a little shiver down your spine.
1. Miss Kaminski from Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee
I’ve always been fascinated by the icy disdain of the Snow Queen and in this story Foxlee gives us a modern-day fairytale conjuring up all the terrifying malice of this traditional villain.
2. Miss Trunchbull from Matilda by Roald Dahl
‘Looking at her, you got the feeling that this was someone who could bend iron bars and tear telephone directories in half.’ And if that’s not reason enough to stay away, this villain also comes with a shot put and a chokey. Eeeeeeek.
3. Captain Skuldiss from The Last Wild and The Dark Wild by Piers Torday
Described ‘like a spider with a white human face’, he walks with a crutch and has a lisp. But don’t be fooled; he is totally terrifying.
4. Voldemort from The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
First seen in the forest drinking unicorn blood, this villain goes from bad to worse. He is bald with slits for a nose, eerily linking him to his viper pet, Nagini
5. Lady Fang from Bloodstone by Allan Boroughs
She collects the eyeballs of people she dislikes. Enough said.
6. The Demon Headmaster from The Demon Headmaster series by Gillian Cross
A truly creepy character who hypnotizes his pupils using his piercing green eyes.
7. The White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
Lures you in with Turkish delight and then BAMMMMMM! Turns you to stone. Shudder.
8. Capricorn from Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Not that frightening to look at but his heart is described as a ‘black stone’. A first class manipulator with a penchant for the colour red.
9. Nessie Needleteeth from One Wish by Michelle Harrison
A terrifying river spirit who will make you think twice about entering the forest alone: ‘Water gushed in through silver-green teeth that jutted out in thin, spiteful spikes. Its fat tongue sat like a bloated slug.’
10. Mrs Coulter from Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Beneath her glamorous appearance lurks a dark evil. The cruelest mother I’ve come across in children’s books with a golden monkey daemon who is just as spiteful as she is.
Watch the trailer for Abi Elphinstone’s debut children’s book for 8-12 years, The Dreamsnatcher here.
Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. Because Moll is more important than she knows…The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure. Perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling, Michelle Harrison and Eva Ibbotson. Publishing on 26th February 2015.