All the Pretty Horses was immediately hailed as an American classic, and here are just a few of the glowing reviews it received on publication:

‘Cormac McCarthy must be acknowledged as a talent equal to William Faulkner, but whatever he may owe to Faulkner’s style, his substance could not be more different. Faulkner’s work is all about human history and all takes place in mental spaces, while in Mr. McCarthy’s work human thought and activity seem almost completely inconsequential when projected upon the vast alien landscapes where they occur.’ New York Times

‘Cormac McCarthy writes about the American West as if he were the first novelist ever to lay eyes upon it . . . It is a simple story, told in language as subtly beautiful as its desert setting. After more than thirty years of labour, McCarthy has honed a style which is all his own. What he does best is to merge the deadly with the beautiful, as if his language must protect itself from sentimentality with stingers and barbs. In outline, All the Pretty Horses sounds like a near-relation of the Zane Grey western: boy hits trail with best horse and best buddy; boy falls foul of law; boy meets girl, boy loses girl; boy decides it’s the cowboy life for him. Your standard oater. So what happens? How is McCarthy able to take that and turn it into this, a wonderful lyric novel full of adolescent angst and horse lore and what elsewhere he has called “strobic moments” of emotional complexity and genuine suspense?’

[S]o exuberant in its prose, so offbeat in its setting and so mordant and profound in its deliberations that one searches in vain for comparisons in American literature. Publishers Weekly