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 getting a man lynched for false charges purely for the fun of it. 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 than the others. Holden takes a particular interest in raping and murdering children. References to Paradise Lost frequently put him in the role of Satan, and he's heavily implied to be some sort of supernatural creature or incarnation of pure evil. In the end, it's implied that he performs a murder too grisly for even this dark tale to describe.
  • 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.
    • Everything about Judge Holden. His barely-human appearance is only the beginning; he regularly rapes and kills kids, he preaches the supremacy of war and killing, and he pulls the strings behind the massacre of hundreds and personally kills dozens. He is also heavily implied to be Satan, war incarnate, or some other Humanoid Abomination, possessing superhuman strength and apparent agelessness. At the end, he (presumably) rapes and kills the kid, which, given the Judge's thematic connection to the tale of Faust, may very well have involved literally ripping him to shreds. After this, the Judge is "dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die."
  • 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.
  • Tear Jerker: When the Kid now the Man offers to escort the old woman he found back to civilization, only to realize that she's been long dead.