Blood Meridian Review

Author: Cormac McCarthy.

Publisher: Picador.

Published: 1985.

Rating: 10/10.


Penned as Cormac McCarthy’s “masterpiece,” Blood Meridian (1985) sure lives up to its critical praise. Probably the most violent book I’ve ever read, and that’s saying something having read, and loved, his later novel No Country For Old Men (2005). 

The novel follows a group of scalp hunters who kill masses of Native Americans along the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850’s. The protagonist, The Kid, goes from one violent encounter to the next, from fights with fellow Americans to being captured by Mexicans and then warring with Native Americans, his journey is filled with violence. 

The story highlights the maltreatment of Native Americans during the expansion out West from both the Americans and Mexicans, as they are hunted for the thriving scalp market. There is a wide cast of men who we meet along the way, all of different backgrounds, and all of which become part of the gang who are involved in the violence and slaughter of people for material gain. 

Definitely not for the faint of heart. McCarthy’s use of violence without purpose underscores the lawlessness of the West and of rural America during its early days. The antagonist of the Judge is a pretty nasty piece of work. Extremely violent and sadistic, he lives by his own philosophies of destiny. The novel also highlights how religion and violence can co-exist, and what this means for the world’s inhabitants. 

McCarthy’s minimalist writing and description matches the bluntness of the violence he portrays. Utterly harrowing and brilliant. A must read!

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