The most devilish books

Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, the prince of darkness - call him what you will, but the devil is a such an intriguing force of evil that countless writers across many centuries have woven a devil, the devil or simply demonic themes into their work.

The Faustian pact has been reworked many times – from Christopher Marlow’s Doctor Faustus, which popularized this age-old German legend, to Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray – while temptation is also a common reoccurring theme with John Milton’s Paradise Lost being the classic example.

Dante's Inferno (which has recently been turned into a video game), C.S. Lewis, Washington Irving, and, of course, the king of the occultists, Aleister Crowley, have all ventured into this dark territory. Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, also takes a trip through hell with his supernatural thriller Horns. Devilish writing veers from straight horror to anarchic humor to the completely unexpected.

Get to know the devil in literature.

Devilish books

By Charles Robert Maturin
A reworking of the Faustian pact – an example of classic gothic literature. (1820)
By Marie Corelli
The devil comes to London and helps a starving novelist – a satire on Victorian life. (1895)
By Jacques Cazotte
An occult romance – Satan falls head over heads in love. (1772)
By Mark Twain
Some Austrian boys meet an angel called Satan, who educates them – a satire on religion. (1916)
By Mikhail Bulgakov
Satan brings hell to Moscow. Written during Stalin’s show trials. Suppressed for years. (1966)
By Ira Levin
Levin’s vision of satanism in suburbia. Should not be read by mothers-to-be. (1967)
By Cormac McCarthy
Many see the Judge Holden character as demonic in this Western novel. (1985)
By Robert Olen Butler
Definitely not Dante, a TV presenter endures a novel but hellish experience. (2009)
By Akira Hiramoto
The life of blues guitarist Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to the devil, is re-imagined. (2008)
By Glen Duncan
It’s not easy being the fallen angel, who takes over the body of a depressed writer. (2003)
By John Updike
Devilish Darryl Van Horne sets up his own little coven on Rhode Island. (1984)
By Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
The world is coming to an end – a very funny book indeed. (1990)


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