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 new supernatural thriller Horns. Devilish writing veers from straight horror to anarchic humor to the completely unexpected.
Get to know the devil in literature.
Twenty Devilish Books
Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)
One for atheists as Heinlein shows unexpected visions of Satan, heaven and hell.
The Mysterious Stranger (1916)
Some Austrian boys meet an angel called Satan, who educates them – a satire on religion.
The Sorrows of Satan (1895)
The devil comes to London and helps a starving novelist – a satire on Victorian life.
The Master and Margarita (1966)
Satan brings hell to Moscow. Written during Stalin’s show trials. Suppressed for years.
Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
Charles Robert Maturin
A reworking of the Faustian pact – an example of classic gothic literature.
Levin’s vision of satanism in suburbia. Should not be read by mothers-to-be.
Good Omens (1990)
Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
The world is coming to an end – a very funny book indeed.
I, Lucifer (2003)
It’s not easy being the fallen angel, who takes over the body of a depressed writer.
Robert Olen Butler
Definitely not Dante, a TV presenter endures a novel but hellish experience.
Falling Angel (1978)
The Angel Heart movie is based on this novel - Louis Cyphre wants a debt settled.
Butcher Bird (2007)
A San Francisco tattoo artist journeys to Hell after being wounded by a demon.
Needful Things (1991)
Leland Gaunt is an evil scheming shopkeeper, who turns a small town on its head.
Blood Meridian (1985)
Many see the Judge Holden character as demonic in this Western novel.
The Monk (1796)
A Spanish monk is tempted by Matilda, an agent of the devil, into ungodly crimes.
Deathbird Stories (1975)
Written between 1960 and 1974, a collection of 19 scary stories of myth and evil.
The Devil in Love (1772)
An occult romance – Satan falls head over heads in love.