Writing for The New York Times, Richard Boston found Heroes and Villains to be "a strange, compelling book. . . . a fable that discusses the roles of reason and imagination in a civilized society." He reported it to be "an undoubted success," saying "Carter tells her story with considerable skill. Her observation is sharp, and she writes extremely well."
Theodore Sturgeon reviewed the novel favorably, praising Carter's "vivid color, her familiarity with her scene, the unexpectedness of her characters and plot development."