Have you finished Cormac McCarthy’s 1985 novel Blood Meridian and are looking for more works of his?
To get you started, here is a list of recommended readings:
Due to its depiction of conflict and the irrational reasons employed by political leaders, Blood Meridian set a new bar for “wild west” novels and for aficionados of this genre. The novel’s foundation on real events made the tale even more traumatic.
McCarthy transports us to the borderlands of Mexico in the 1850s. “The kid,” an innocent youngster who becomes involved with the vicious Glanton gang and their sadistic enjoyment at slaughtering Native Americans, is introduced in this chapter. It’s led by the enormous Judge Holden, a literary legend for his size, abilities, intellect, and philosophical musings on war.
There are a lot of great books like Blood Meridian on my recommended reading list, but they aren’t all easy reads. Nevertheless, they are all written by incredible authors who you should keep an eye out for.
Books like Blood Meridian
The Revenant, by Michael Punke
The Revenant, a story about vengeance and based on real events, is a great way to get started on our list of ferocious books.
Hugh Glass, an expert frontiersman, is the subject of Michael Punke’s book, which takes readers back in time to 1823 and into the Rocky Mountains of that time period. In the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, Glass was a grizzly bear mauler who was expected to die after a mission went astray and Glass was savagely attacked by a bear.
Because no man should die alone, two members of the group are instructed to stay with Glass until he succumbs to his injuries, but they rob him of his weapons out of fear of further attacks and abandon him. Glass embarks on a grueling three thousand mile journey through the baron border to avenge the two men who betrayed him.
Many are drawn to The Revenant because of a particularly terrifying scene in which a bear attacks Glass, but the book is ultimately about Glass’s triumph over death through sheer willpower, grit, and a burning desire for vengeance.
The Devil All the Time, by Donald Ray Pollock
The Devil All the Time follows a group of people across rural Ohio and West Virginia, where the brutality, gloomy tone, and Gothic Southern style of the tale parallels McCarthy’s Meridian, making it a terrific read for lovers of the author’s earlier works.
Willard Russel, his dying wife Charlotte, and their son, Arvin Eugene Russel, are the main characters of the novel. Despite his good character, Arvin grows up to be extremely violent. There’s also Carl and Sandy Henderson, a vicious husband and wife killing team, a phony preacher with a spider in his hand named Roy, and Theodore, Carl’s crippled cousin who’s running from the law.
Set in the 1960s immediately after World War II, the novel tells the story of a group of people whose lives are intertwined and entwined in horribly lyrical incidents. In the same vein as Blood Meridian, Donald Ray Pollock’s novel The Devil All the Time is unquestionably an unnerving read.
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
Herman Melville’s timeless Moby Dick follows as the next Man vs. Beast on this list of books like Blood Meridian. When we heard Captain Ahab’s famous opening statement, “Call me Ishmael,” we knew we were about to go on a voyage on board the Pequod with him and his crew to exact revenge on the huge sperm whale (Moby Dick) that attacked their ship and bit off Ahab’s leg during a previous trip.
As Ahab’s obsession with Moby Dick grows, Ishmael, a fellow sailor on board, chronicles their adventures at sea and describes Ahab’s descent into madness.
Moby Dick is more than just a voyage into the deep blue sea; it’s a study in character, perception, and belief, all infused with Herman Melville’s legendary imagination. It’s an encyclopedia of whaler myth and legend. For as McCarthy reworked the untamed west, Moby Dick reworked the adventure fiction.
Wise Blood, by Flannery O’Connor
Despite its dark humor, Flannery O’Connor’s debut novel Wise Blood is a bloodthirsty book like Blood Meridian, but it’s also a bit of a break from the more gruesome offerings on this list.
Hazel Motes, a young man who is questioning his faith and religion, is the protagonist of the novel. At first reluctantly, Motes declares himself an agnostic until being seduced by street preacher Asa Hawkes and his daughter Sabbath Lily and, later, the eccentric Enoch Emery, who Motes says has “wise blood,” to start ‘The Church of God Without Christ.’
With a diverse cast of characters, O’Connor’s now-classic novel about vengeance, belief, religion, freedom, and life and death is filled with exciting adventures. Wise Blood, first published in 1952, is a fascinating book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
If anything, reading Blood Meridian may have piqued your interest in other works by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy, thus No Country for Old Men is the next book on the list.
Llewellyn Moss, a character in the novel, discovers an abandoned pick-up truck surrounded by dead men, containing a large amount of heroin and two million dollars in cash. When Moss receives the money, he puts in motion a chain of violent events that even even the local Sheriff can stop.
Moss is the next victim of Anton Chigurh, a mysterious assassin who uses a coin flip to decide whether or not to kill (played expertly by Javier Bardem in the 2007 film of the same name). American crime thriller No Country for Old Men, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McCarthy, is a triumph and will please fans of Blood Meridian.
Do you like Cormac McCarthy’s work? There are many more books like The Road on our list!
American Meteor, by Norman Lock
American Meteor, Norman Lock’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed Blood Meridian, takes a similar look at the country’s bloody past.
In this fast-paced tale of coming-of-age and adventure, the focus is on Stephen Moran, the protagonist. As the story unfolds, we learn about Moran’s friendship with Walt Whitman, his employment on the railroads with Thomas Durant, his participation in President Lincoln’s burial train as a bugler, and his apprenticeship as a photographer with William Henry Jackson.
Moran meets Chief Crazy Horse at the Battle of Little Big Horn and, despite escaping with his life, his dreams of the encounter stay haunting him for the rest of his life, turning American Meteor into a near-visionary tale. Locke’s novel is a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from the lighthearted to the somber.
True Grit, by Charles Portis
Charles Portis’ 1968 novel True Grit has spawned a number of film adaptations, including one that earned John Wayne an Oscar. An elderly spinster named Mattie Ross recalls her youth and her quest to avenge the death of her father by infamous killer Tom Chaney in a tale that is narrated in flashback.
She sets out on her vengeance mission from her farm in Arkansas with a bravery that is uncommon in most fourteen-year-old girls. After meeting the one-eyed Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (Waynes character in the 1969 film) and a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf, she decides to take down Chaney once and for all.
True Grit is a classic American novel full of gunfights, gangs, saloons, and vengeance in the Wild West. Fans of Blood Meridian will love it.
Riders of the Purple Sage, by Zane Grey
You may find Riders of the Purple Sage to be a better fit if you’ve found previous Westerns like Blood Meridian to be excessively violent. If you’re a fan of the Western genre, you’ll understand why this film has been called “a Western masterpiece.”
After being kidnapped from their Texas hometown in 1817, avenging avenger Lassiter sets out on a mission to locate his sister. While on the hunt, he ends up at the fictional Utah hamlet of Cottonwoods, just in time to save young and beautiful rancher Jane Withersteen from being forced into marriage with Mormon Elder Tull.
We’ve already established that Zane Grey is a superb storyteller, and Riders of the Purple Sage is the perfect novel to round off our list of favorites.
It’s not hard to find works like Blood Meridian, which aren’t just about violence, but also about conflict, human nature, and belief, giving a story that appeals to readers of all genres.