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***** - Starter Villain



Locus Award-winning and bestselling author John Scalzi brings us a turbo-charged tale of a family business with a difference - as Charlie discovers when he inherits it. This one comes with a hidden headquarters, minions, talking cats and supervillain rivals.

Warning: supervillain in training. Risk of world domination.

Inheriting his late uncle’s business proves complicated. It’s also way more dangerous than Charlie could ever have imagined. Because his uncle had kept his supervillain status a secret – until now.

Divorced and emotionally dependent on his cat, Charlie wasn’t loving life. Although they weren’t close, news of his Uncle Jack’s death didn’t help. And that was before Jake’s rivals (seriously vengeful ones) ambushed his funeral. Now Charlie must decide if he should stay stuck in his rut, or step up to take on the business, the enemies, the minions, the hidden volcano lair . . .

Even harder to get used to are the sentient, language-using, computer-savvy cats – and the fact that in the organization’s hierarchy, they’re management. If Charlie does say yes, this lifeline could become a death wish. Because there’s much more to being an Evil Mastermind than he suspected. Yet could this also, finally, be his chance to shine?


Seeing the cover of John Scalzi’s Starter Villain, with its stylish and suited cat was more than enough to make me want to read it - but if that didn’t convince me, the blurb certainly did!

Charlie is down on his luck, running out of money and fighting with his family to keep his home. When a distant relative dies, he finds himself inheriting a Super Villain company and his life will be changed forever!

I always worry when I get my hopes up for a new book as expectations don’t always live up to the reality of the words on the page. I needn’t have worried about Starter Villain, it’s a fast-paced, fun and absurd read which kept me hooked. You do, of course have to suspend your disbelief for this one; there’s super villains, cat masterminds and rude dolphins at every turn with assassination plots and schemes aplenty.

Charlie is a great narrator for the story, he’s used as a normal person thrown into this bizarre world and asks all the questions that the reader is also asking such ‘why can my cat talk?’, ‘why does this person want to kill me?’ and ‘why can’t this Super Villain use Zoom correctly?’. The dry humour and witty writing style really help to engage the reader, and some big events are introduced in just a sentence that sometimes you have to go back and check you did just read what you thought you did!

It’s a short book and it’s also a standalone (in terms of Charlie’s story anyway), although I would love to read more. The plot itself is well constructed and there’s some great characters, particularly Hera and Persephone - the two cats on security detail. There’s also a lot of fun poked at governments, tech bros and corporations. I would love to read more about the universe in general even without Charlie in future.

Overall, Starter Villain is a book not to miss – a fun and absurd fast-paced read and one of my Kindig Gems for 2023. Thank you to NetGalley & Pan Macmillan – Tor Books for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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