I talk to a lot of people about Cormac McCarthy. It's a rare person who is familiar with his 1973 novel Child of God. Not exactly easy reading–not on the mind nor on the spirit. The story is about Lester Ballard: a Tennessee pariah, a serial-killing necrophiliac–or put another way, a child of God.
The people who have actually read the book talk about themes of cruelty, isolation and moral degradation. Others talk about survival, as Ballard is on the run. He is quite cunning and willing to endure great sacrifice.
As an English teacher, I pay attention to books. Child of God is dark. So dark that Kaleb Tierce, an English teacher in Tuscola, Texas, was placed on administrative leave for allowing the story to enter into his curriculum. The guy eventually lost his job.
There's a pantheon of dark characters in the McCarthy anthology, Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men and Judge Holden from Blood Meridian being the most well known. The evil McCarthy conjures through his characters is mythical, and that narrative power has real-world consequences. It got Mr. Tierce fired.
The trailer for Child of God is out, but I doubt I'll see the movie. For me, the story is best experienced once. You can check the trailer out for yourself: