The Bad Boys of YA Fantasy

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In anticipation of the upcoming release of The Brightest Night by Jennifer L. Armentrout and the return of our favorite, yet deadly, alien Luc, we figured it was a perfect time to refresh and reshare our top five list of the best bad boys in YA fantasy. Check out our picks below and be sure to pre-order a copy of The Brightest Night, coming October 20th. Psst…BTW—the first printing of the special hardcover edition is signed by the author and includes an exclusive bonus scene!

By Anna Parsons

Everyone loves a bad boy.

While most interesting characters have both good and bad in them, sometimes our favorites are the ones that toe the line between the two…and maybe sometimes lean a little bad. Whether they have a good heart but a rough exterior or are a villain with the potential to change, some of the most intriguing stories revolve around people with layers, who are easily misunderstood because they’re fighting their own internal battles.

Luc from The Origin Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Everybody loves a badEverybody loves a bad boy. And New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout truly delivers her best one yet in the Origin series. The swoonworthy Luc is an unnaturally beautiful guy that seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher can’t help but find herself drawn to. Evie’s growing attraction to Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world that she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head.

Damien from A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen

A Neon Darkness is the secondA Neon Darkness is the second standalone fantasy in creator Lauren Shippen’s Bright Sessions universe that tells the untold origin story of the hit podcast’s most notorious antagonist, Damien. Set in Los Angeles in 2006, long-time fans and new readers witness the rise of a villain with the super ability to compel people around him to desire whatever he desires. Damien’s mysterious, manipulative, and deceptively charming nature makes him a complex and engrossing literary bad boy. Told predominantly in Damien’s POV, A Neon Darkness keeps readers constantly teetering the fine line between their love and hate for Shippen’s Bright Sessions bad boy.

Aeduan from The Witchlands Series by Susan Dennard

Aeduan, trained as a mercenaryAeduan, trained as a mercenary from an early age, is a Bloodwitch, able to smell magic and track people by their blood as well as regenerate from gruesome injuries. He emerges as an early villain in Truthwitch as he discovers Safiya’s power and hunts her and Iseult, forcing them to flee their home. But despite his dark past and connection to the aggressive Raider King, Aeduan at times shows unexpected compassion. Conflicted about his role, he may not be the ruthless killer he seems.

Kaz from The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

If you like stories with complicated If you like stories with complicated characters then you’ll love Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, where you can take your pick from a whole criminal crew. Paid to break the maker of a highly addictive magical drug out of an impenetrable castle, this rough group has several intriguing guys (not to mention some fierce girls). There’s Jesper, a sarcastic marksman with a gambling problem, and Matthias, who is bitter and cold from years of unjust imprisonment but begins to warm up to the crew. Leader of them all is Kaz, a criminal prodigy and gang leader bent on revenge for his brother’s death who does whatever it takes to get what he wants. As they complete their mission, you’ll have to wait and see whether they’re hiding hearts of gold or set on a darker path.

Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

A troublemaker and master A troublemaker and master of excuses ever since he was a child, Carswell is notorious for stealing a spaceship and deserting the American Republic Military. Flirtatious, devious, and wanted by several governments, under this reckless exterior is a kind and devoted friend.


Originally published May 3, 2018.