A Dish Best Served Cold – Revenge Books Recommendations

Has anyone ever wronged you? Was justice never met? Are you willing to take things in your own hands?Well my dear avengers-in-training, if you’re looking for great books for tips on how to kill off your older brother who massacred your entire family or well – maybe, just kill time, read on below.

Generally, the hallmark of great literatures related to revenge are when a crime has been left unpunished and of course, when more people are involved in the crime. Most often, this crime has been unpunished for YEARS. Especially when this crime, whether directly or indirectly, has lead to the avenger tragically losing everything he or she holds dear. The higher the number of people involved in committing the wrong against him, the more targets the avenger has. The avenger typically employs a divide and conquer strategy wherein he would kill or attack his targets one by one. Something that serves as a message to the remaining number of targets as well as give readers some “satisfaction” at the punishment being doled out to the wrongdoer.

With nothing left to lose, an avenger becomes willing to do things he would normally never do to achieve his goal, turning into a twisted and more complex character because of lines he is now willing to cross. We get both the spark that becomes the foundation to the avenger’s path of carnage as well as the unfettering of any “chains” that might have held him back from the dark path.

The level of atrocity committed is essential to the story. That’s why a huge percentage of these types of literature involve murder of loved ones, rape, torture and/or any combination of the above. The more heinous, the better.

More often than not, the lag in time between the wrong committed and the retribution meted out serves as an advantage for the avenger. His target(s) have gone complacent, so he has the element of surprise.
And don’t forget the added psychological effect his unexpected appearance would have on the targets once they realize what’s coming for them. Well you know the saying, revenge is a dish best served cold.

So why do I think revenge stories are better if the crime is especially reprehensible or why is it better when there are more people who wronged the avenger? I think that it makes us even more sympathetic of the avenger. We put ourselves in his shoes and think of how close we would react like him if we were wronged and left with absolutely nothing. And with more people involved in the crime, there’s this feeling that the avenger was overpowered which adds another layer to the unfairness of the situation.

This isn’t to say that readers would actually approve of vigilante justice in real life considering how badly these things can go. I don’t think fans of this trope are sadistic in nature for liking these. They read these books with the desire to see a crime punished. People should not get away with murder or any other heinous crimes. But because revenge stories usually mean that the usual form of justice is not able to mete out the appropriate form of punishment. The avenger and the reader are left with having this desire fulfilled through vigilante justice.
Given that anyone can be the target, from a mob bosses without a conscience, to reformed Christians trying to make amends, some of these books teaches readers that maybe revenge isn’t the abosolute way.

So without further ado, here are some book recomendations that center around revenge, click on the titles to go to the Amazon page:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Pretty much the quintessential book for revenge. This classic has been around for such a long time that it’s actually available on the web for free. Public Domain and all.

Poor Edmond Dantes is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. And he’s been imprisoned for a very long time. Needless to say, he manages to escape and make the prison guards believe him dead. Also lucky for him, he gains possession of treasure in the Island of Monte Cristo. So we move on to what he does with his newfound freedom and wealth.

As of this writing, the kindle edition for Count of Monte Cristo is free

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

This is actually set in the world of Abercrombie’s First Law series. But as someone who read Best Served Cold first, I can tell you that you don’t need to read the previous series to enjoy this book.

Basically, the main character Monza is betrayed by her boss Duke Orso. Monza is becoming more popular than the Duke. And one day, Duke Orso and his other men decide to kill Monza and her brother. Fortunately for Monza, she survives and decides to take them down.

Impressive with its world-building and the writer’s ability to flesh out the characters. It’s comparable to Game of Thrones in that it’s a crapsack world you wouldn’t want to live in due to the multiple fatalities happening due to war and huge amounts of less-than-stellar people. But while the main characters in this tale are no saints either, you kind of like them for being relatable and also funny (even at the most unsuitable of times).

The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo

This is actually the 6th Book of Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series. The main character Kate used to be Amish but broke away from that life. She later became Chief of Police to the town of Painter’s Mill.

In this book, an Amish family was robbed. But the Amish father was shot during the robbery and the mother taken. While most of the children died due to a fire that happened moments after.

35 years later, one of the murderers receives notes calling him out as a murderer. Not long after, he sees a ghost, the image of the woman he was sure is dead.

I don’t think you need to read the first five series to understand what’s going on in this book. But it would be great if you do so for more understanding of the main character Kate and John’s background. But overall, I found the book an intriguing read

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

A YA selection that I thought had a lot of similarities with the American TV Series Revenge. But I think people should give it a try.

It starts with people being gunned down in the cruise ship the main character was on. She and her friend survive by escaping via lifeboat. But they were left at sea for too long and suffered severe dehydration. She survived. But her friend did not.

And then she hears that the Senator and his son told a lie about what happened. A lie that could have saved her and her friend….

This book pretty much put me off traveling by sea. What the main character experienced was horrifying. And it did get me hooked to seeing how it all plays out.

If you like the revenge trope and characters taking on new identities, you might want to give this book a try.


If you have any more you want to add, please do feel free to let us know via the comments!


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