Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Whatever exists without my knowledge, exists without my consent.— The Judge
This bleak and beautiful, terrifyingly violent novel is about a Tennessean drifter known only as The Kid, who joins the army and later the Glanton gang in order to scalp and massacre Native Americans and other tribes along the US-Mexico borderlands in the Old West. He and the gang do this first for profit, but are later consumed by bloodlust and a compulsion for violence. They are led by an unnerving and intelligent giant of a man called The Judge, who is completely hairless, brutal, and a child predator.
Cormac McCarthy paints haunting landscapes with poetic language, and the imagery in this novel made my head spin. It was a difficult read, but well worth it, and is full of insight on war, God, death, the true nature of man, and the uncaring natural world itself. Definitely my favourite Cormac McCarthy book.