Having given 5* to The Road (my review here http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/64404137), I was surprised and disappointed at how much I disliked this.
Like The Road, it is dark and sparse, and involves destitute people travelling on foot, looking for food, shelter and hope, but that is where the similarity ends.
This is set much longer ago (before cars) and tells several parallel and occasionally intersecting stories: a woman searching for her missing baby; her brother searching for her; a tinker travelling between towns, and a gang.
Although they all rely on, and often receive kindness from strangers, the book is suffused with brooding menace: "a sky heavy and starless... and laden with the false warmth of impending storm" and "the tracks of commerce lay fossilised in dried mud" and "a hushed blue world of the dead".
Like The Road, the language is bleak and McCarthy doesn't scatter the pages with punctuation, though he uses far more than in The Road: the main omission is quotation marks. Whereas I think that extreme sparseness worked in The Road, the middle path adopted in this book is neither one thing nor the other.
I never found the story really engaging, but my real problem with it is the gruesomeness. There is a vicious, motiveless murder, done with a smile. Nasty, but in context, it fits with the story. However, near the end there is something much worse that I wish I hadn't read.
Not for the faint-hearted.