YMMV: Blood Meridian

  • Complete Monster: Judge Holden is one of the most famous and memorable villains in American Literature. Our first introduction to him is him casually ruining a man's life by claiming him guilty of a crime several towns over, before confessing he had never met the man before and just destroyed his life for giggles. Holden acts as a corrupting force to the Glanton Gang throughout the novel, subtly pushing them to commit more and more atrocities on the undeserving. Holden's savagery and cruelty utterly outstrip the rest of his contemporaries and the lives he takes are often done so with more terrible violence then the others. Holden thinks nothing of murdering children and they tend to go missing from areas he visits after he is seen tempting them with sweets. The true nature of Holden is left ambiguous, but regardless he is a creature who desires nothing less than permanent violence and closes the novel with a murder implied to be too horrible to show even in the story's depressingly bleak world.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Owing to this being one of the darkest books ever written, some readers will inevitably see it as a gratuitously violent and terrifyingly depressing book, with the borderline Black And Black Morality and Shoot the Shaggy Dog ending doing little to improve their opinion.
  • Foe Yay: Between the Kid and Judge Holden. It's established fairly early in the book that Holden is a paedophilic rapist, which explains his interest in the Kid and what happens in the ending.
  • Moral Event Horizon: "If we don't kill every last nigger here, we deserve to be whipped and sent home." This quote prefaces the gang's attack on a peaceful and almost totally undefended Indian camp, with a death toll unambiguously in the hundreds. They kill men, women, and children alike with gleeful abandon, far more than they end up scalping, drive the rest into the desert, and rape the women left behind as they lie dying from their wounds. After this, them killing 35 people in a bar fight comes off as tame in comparison.
    • "War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god."note 
  • Nightmare Fuel: Yes. It'd be easier to find passages that don't contain some.
    • During the Kid's wanderings through Mexico, he encounters the scenes of several mass murders, one of which involves dead babies mounted on a bush. The reason he's wandering around Mexico? He was part of a filibustering expedition which was massacred by Comanches in a Curb-Stomp Battle. This battle consists of nearly a full page of some of the most horrific Gorn ever put to print; Comanches are described hacking off the scalps and genitals of both the living and the dead, as well as raping the dying.
  • Squick: The Idiot. The Judge ties a leash around his neck and walks him like a pet, naked and drooling, as he pursues the kid through the bone yard.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: One reviewer of the book mentioned how, on almost every page, McCarthy has made a reference to something, including Antinomial Christianity, Gnosticism, and Spaghetti Westerns.