Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver Book Summary



A New York Times "Ten Best Books of 2022" • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection • An Instant New York Times Bestseller • An Instant Wall Street Journal Bestseller • A #1 Washington Post Bestseller 

"Demon is a voice for the ages—akin to Huck Finn or Holden Caulfield—only even more resilient.” —Beth Macy, author of Dopesick

"May be the best novel of 2022. . . . Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this is the story of an irrepressible boy nobody wants, but readers will love.” (Ron Charles, Washington Post)

From the acclaimed author of The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees, a brilliant novel that enthralls, compels, and captures the heart as it evokes a young hero’s unforgettable journey to maturity

Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.

Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.

Demon Copperhead Book Details

Book Name Demon Copperhead
Genre Fiction & Literature
Author Barbara Kingsolver
Published 18 October 2022, Tuesday
Price $16.99
E-Book Size 2.54 MB

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver Book Reviews

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Fierce.. Stunning. Gorgeously raw. I have never read a book twice, Demon Copperhead may test that rule. Impossible not to get sucked in after the first page.


Demon Copperfield. A well written story of a boy , his life and the people who inspire and influence him. It’s a good look into the lure and destructiveness of drugs.


Wow. Beautiful, funny, REAL, gritty.


Beautiful Coming of Age Novel. Very slow to get into, definitely a coming of age novel. It takes some time. That being said, I really learned so much and understood the characters all along the way. It really became something every beautiful. I feel so grateful for the perspective the author was able to communicate. Definitely worth the read.


Another heart wrenching tale. Heart wrenching and gripping (if long) story that is tough to read (so sad and at times overly graphic) but even tougher to put down. Not unique enough though (Hillbilly Elegy, Empire of Pain) to merit 5 stars.

Principal L

Slow but worth it. It took me a long time to get through the book but o enjoyed it. The heartbreak of opioid addiction and poverty are very well presented. The characters were well developed and you were left with hope that all would be well.


Couldn’t put it down.. Barbara Kingsolver is the only author to grab my attention and curiosity. Having read The Poisonwood Bible in high school, it has been my go-to “re-read” 6 times over. Demon Copperhead turns out to be extremely relatable; both the character himself, and the ever present issue of opioid medications. Must read. And must re-read. 10 out of 10 🩵

Anella Wetter

Will stay with me forever.. These folks. Their story. I will keep them with me always.


OMG!. One of the best novels I’ve ever read! I loved The Poisonwood Bible and this one may be even better!


Heartbreaking. Couldn’t put it down, even though it broke my heart over and over. So much sadness, and sadly because it does represent so many wrecked lives. Like always, amazing characters that come to life with Kingsolver’s amazing writing.


Gut Wrenching. Sad and so true. Sheds light on what kids in foster care can actually be exposed too and the many obstacles they face. One can make life better, you just have to choose.

Tuti Bella

Masterful Pagetuner. Great character development in this story. You easily bond with a few and can’t put down the book anymore. Very captivating and engaging. It’s true page turner. I learned a great deal from reading this book about social injustice and history of our country. Thank you Barbara Kingslover for using your beautiful words to bring attention to such worthy topics. Highly recommend this book.


Good, but expected more.. The book starts off incredible. But it wanders too much in the middle and is redundant. Some of the dialogue seems fake. Good, timely story. Heartbreaking at times.

Cat hack

A great piece of literature. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock not having heard of this book. The writing is superb. The plot keeps you engaged the entire long read.


Demon Copperhead. Demon Copperhead drew me in from the beginning. Kingsolver brought to life timely issues which are difficult to read about, yet she managed to convey hope through her creative storytelling. Highly recommended


Excellent. I love her books. This one is no exception. I read it fast. Couldn’t put it down, in fact. This story needed to be told.


Incredible… a masterpiece.. This is one of the best books I’ve read in years. It’s a slow start (but always well written and engaging) in terms of plot… but stick with it. You will find yourself completely riveted by this character and this story. I think everyone should read this book, not only for the entertainment value, but to give us all insight into a world that has been so hidden and needs to be better understood. It is a MASTERPIECE.


Enjoyed. A well told story. Unfortunately with a lot of truth. You’re always rooting for Demon.


Fabulous. Heartbreaking, exciting, terrifying but just wonderful. A true rollercoaster of a ride. Barbara Kingsolver has written a true masterpiece.

Golden Vicki

Important. I loved this novel inspire of being saddened by the reality of how so so many humans were cruelly and intentionally as dictated to the deadly drug all for the financial benefit of one family and their inner circle. Thank you for sharing this story with the world.


Demon Copperhead. Pure genius!


Demon. Demon had an unbelievably hard life, even though people tried to help him at every turn in the road. No one could help him, however, until he was ready to trust himself

Hippy hound

Fantastic read. Her writing style always takes me away.

Mais Po

What a story!. Consuming.


Demon Copperhead. I paid $16.99 for the book and Apple only downloaded through page 57. Good for the first 57 pages. Frustrated that I can’t read more after paying for the book.

Sessa Fam

Survival and Perserverence - Demon Copperhead. “Demon Copperhead” masterfully delves into the realities of neglect, poverty and addiction. Demon is an amazingly likable character and his trials and tribulations are eloquently delivered. You feel as if you are on the road with him. Barbara balances the starkness of these difficult issues with amazing moments of human resiliency. A must read.

Eli Roc

Very engaging!. Top notch story telling grounded in reality.


Mesmerizing. I was riveted to this story from the first page. There are so many colorful characters and tragic themes to ponder that I can’t stop thinking about it.

Aoife S.

Incredible. Such an incredible author. I loved this book, heart break and all.

Fiercely devoted

Great Story. This was such an incredible story. I fell in love with Demon. So much heart.

Dh for cooking

Beautiful story. Just loved this story. I actually could feel the highs and lows as described by the main character. I couldn’t stop reading. For better or worse I had to know how the story ended.


Different than my past reads. I loved the story telling in this book it was very matter of fact and didn’t sugar coat or hold back at all. As someone who wants to become more of an avid reader this was a great book to get me wanting more. The book really made me think too I loved the main characters way of thinking and found myself disappointed in him and rooting for him all at the same time.


Def deserved the Pulitzer. So, so good.


Hard read but well worth it. This book is incredible and incredibly hard to read. To think the impact one pharmaceutical company has had on our people is astounding.


Exceptional. 5*. One of my favorite books I have read. Outstanding story. Very well written.

Love twisted things

Masterful word usage. Simultaneously heartbreaking, uplifting, terrifying, inspiring, devastating, and hilarious, this book ushers us into the deep forest of poverty, foster care, and drug addiction in backwoods America through the eyes of a poorly educated but bright and talented, fearless and resilient orphan, Demon. Kingsolver’s use of language is unparalleled, making us feel every knockout punch he receives, breathing a sigh of relief when he gets back up. BRAVA! What a book.

Richard Bakare

Where Hope Goes to Die. Full stop, this is a beautifully tragic book. The main characters journey reminds me of a quote from Thomas Levenson, “…not everyone follows a straight course to the person they might become.” His story is like watching the slowest car wreck of a life happen in front of you. Year after year we Demon try to make the most of a patched together family become and glean wisdom from his raw survival. In the end he finds his own flavor of humanity in the overlapping Venn diagram of life experiences. Beyond Demon’s story is Kingsolver’s heart breaking picture of the reality of the foster care system in America. What makes the pain so visceral is Kingsolver’s inscrutable attention to detail of the struggles of foster children, combined with leaving just the right amount of things unsaid. The gritty and pungently lingering aftertaste of a life in the forgotten parts of America sits on you long after you put it down. Kingsolver has created a story of a place and time where all hope seemingly goes to die. That blame for that bleak state is directly and indirectly laid bare at the feet of America collectively. Kingsolver uses character voice to demonstrate the failure of a country to deliver opportunity to every corner of the land. Along with policies that compound the costs of being poor in America. Such as the evaporating food, housing, and income security in America. Along with the deep social inequalities that affect manifests themselves differently in Rural and Urban America. It makes you wonder why anyone espouses the greatness of America’s unbridled capitalism when the truth on the ground is obviously counter proof. This novel is so beyond heavy that I can’t see how Kingsolver made it through writing it herself. Maybe it was a driving goal to show how all of the America’s people love it, but America does not love all of its people. This is a titanic of a read that feels just the right length for the subject at hand and at the same time not long enough.

Jessica drennan

Double dose. I loved this book so much that upon reading the last word, I immediately wanted to start from the beginning and read it again. The book follows the life of Damon Fields aka Demon Copperhead. His life starts as the only child of a single young mother but no relatives to speak of and then progresses through orphanhood, DSS, finding his paternal familial roots, football stardom, drug addiction and recovery. It is definitely a “wild ride” that will break your heart and then put it back together over and over.


Just wow. Beautiful, painful, poignant and joyful. Loved every delicious page. I want to start it over again just to take the ride.


Go Demon Go!. So many emotions reading this story! You’ll want to root for Demon every step of the way.


One of her best.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not only did I learn new things, meet, fascinating characters, and thoroughly enjoy myself, but as usual, I also enjoyed Kingsolver’s writing style.


Good one. Good one


Fairly decent read. Some parts of the book really drag on so, I skipped around a bit while reading. Other than the drag on parts the story line was touching and a good read overall.


One of the best reads ever. The writing, the story. So raw and unbelievably real. This one’s gonna stay with me.


Not worth it…sorry!. Terrible! I pushed through it to actually finish it but, wow not worth the hype and way, way to long! I’m in a reading group and I would not recommend.


One of the best books I have ever read. This book is incredible. I grew up in southwest Virginia, very close to Lee County where this book takes place, and have experienced rural Appalachia first hand. This book describes everything that I wish other people knew about growing up in Appalachia. Copperhead also perfectly pinpoints the truth about the opioid epidemic in Appalachia, which is too often overlooked. This is a great read and I will recommend it over and over again.


She never disappoints. Great book as always. Like with all her books, some parts hard to read. Always worth it.


Absolutely outstanding! Movingly realistic.. Absolutely outstanding! Movingly realistic.


Did Not Disappoint. Barbara Kingsolver knows how to tell a story and this one is right up there. Excellent character development and plot. Really follows the original David Copperfield story but with it’s own creative process. Truly keeps you glued to the book. An absolute must read but does take a minute!


D. So many characters. Keep a list as they are introduced. I think she is an excellent writer! My favorite.

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Wonderful!. Truly loved this book. I so wanted for Demon to turn his life around and find his happiness. I’m certainly not going to reveal if this ever happened here in my review! I’ve never understood why some people become addicts. this story gave me an appreciation of why some submit to addiction. No one wants to become an addict, however each has their story of what led them to their addiction. This was my first Barbara Kingsolver novel; it certainly is not my last.


Loved it!. Absolutely loved the characters and the rocky road of life they traveled on.


Loved it. This is an important story and I am so glad to have read it. I enjoyed it very much


Demon Copperfield. So loved this tragic story that left me with a glimmer of hope for resiliency for all of us …


Fascinating. I couldn’t put this book down. Beautifully written.

Itz Just A RandomGuy

Big story with Big emotions!. Important and beautiful. Loved it!!

Kat Werlinich

Someone to root for. I am hating saying goodbye to Demon Copperhead. Worth every sentence.


Far too long, far too much detail. It was often an exhausting slog. I’m glad I got to the end. There were some good parts that I was happy to read, but it read more like three novels, shoved into one. And weirdly, I still felt that I didn’t get to know some of the important characters.


Bad. Just a sad book


Intense read. This book was so real. There were times I had to take a break from reading because the story was physically making my stomach hurt. The empathy I felt for the characters was overwhelming at times. But overall, it is a story of hope. Indomitable hope.


Different than my past reads. I loved the story telling in this book it was very matter of fact and didn’t sugar coat or hold back at all. As someone who wants to become more of an avid reader this was a great book to get me wanting more. The book really made me think too I loved the main characters way of thinking and found myself disappointed in him and rooting for him all at the same time.


One of the best books I’ve ever read. unique window into a world most of us don’t know or understand. Although painful in parts, it shines in the end, with unforgettable characters you come to love.


N.Layton Gademsky. Outstanding novel!! The authors prose is outstanding. Humor, heartbreak and reality all rolled into one. Demon Copperhead is Steinbeck, Faulkner and Salinger. Read it - you will love it.


Great book but L O N G!. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The character development, story, and writing were all superb. However it fit very long and redundant. If it was 300 pages shorter would give it 5 stars.


Fantastic book. So well written! Couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend!


Well written, heartbreaking story. Very well written book. Unfortunately it’s only too real of a story of the oxy problems , brokenness of child services & struggles of rural America

Astrid J.F

Amazing. Great reading


Captivating, yet sad. This interesting twist on David Copperfield is excellent. The author is true to both the Dickens classic and life in the opioid-addled hills of Western Virginia. As always, Kingsolver develops multi-faceted characters and finds hints of goodness in even the most flawed characters. Not for the faint of heart, but still a wonderful novel.

Nurse Em

Dang What a Good Book. If you like books about recovery and self discovery then you will love these characters


As real as it can get.. Loved this book! As life goes on you start to realizes that there are class systems that we all get put in, maybe upgraded, maybe not, but the struggles of this young boy and his friends was real from beginning to end! A few lucky ones break away.


Demon Copperhead. Excellent!


An excellent story.. Kingsolver doesn’t any punches in this novel set in Appalachia. The loss of coal mining jobs, the oxy epidemic in the region, foster care seen through the eyes of Damon (called Demon) I couldn’t stop reading it. In my opinion, this book is Kingsolver best work since ‘ThePoisonwood Bible’.

Matton Morgans

What a gem of a story.. Loved this book so much! I grew up in rural Virginia and thankfully missed the drug world but know it’s there. This book is so much more than that. The lovely Community of people living off the land and supporting one another. The beauty of nature and space. The yearning and sadness and struggles of growing up and negotiating the world. Just beautiful.


Sad but worthwhile. This story is difficult to get through because it delves into a life of poverty and all the challenges that come with poverty, drugs, hardship, family failure. But in Kingsolver fashion, it’s also a love story to the people and mountains of Appalachia. I am always left with beautiful natural scenes at the end of her books and this is no exception. You cannot help but love and root for Demon and pray for escape and happiness.

East coast runaway

Hope. Love this book it will be in my mind and heart for a long time. This story touched a lot of nerves and my heart. Could not put this book down and when I had to, I couldn’t get it off my mind and couldn’t wait to get back to all the people and place.


Wonderful and non stop action. Thoroughly captivating in telling this story. Loved her use of local dialect . This book really delved into issue related to poverty and welfare system in a way that was very easy to empathize with


Damon copper died. This book was horrible, I keep reading but it never got any better, just horrible stuff happening to this young man, when they started shooting up I had to stop, too much anxiety on my part, I will not be reading any more kingsolver books in the near future. If you want to be depressed then read this book, otherwise read something that’s more uplifting.


Didn’t want it to end. The author is unbelievably talented. This book is so raw, but so good.


Demon Copperfield. Modern day version if Dickins. Always liked the story even with the modern twist.


DEMON COPPERFIELD. Coming from the system i am here to tell you this excellent book was so hard for this 70 yo woman as so much took me back to those early yrs of mine in Oklahoma. Different but the same. Gripping at times. This book goes the range of emotions. Sad funny delighted scared happy destroyed and tears laughter. Im so happy i have read it. Thank you all who made this book come alive especially the author.

Jaira jai

Best.Book…Ever!. Amazing! Book!


Excellent read. Painfully beautiful!


Excellent. Excellent historical modern fiction. Very well written and engaging.


Good read. A realistic look into the effects of the opioid crisis but told in a masterful story telling way. Parts of the book was so depressing that I didn’t know if I could finish but glad I did.


Kingsolver is just the best!. When I back up a few pages to re-read a section, I know I’ve got hold of a really great book. This is one of those.


This is the one!. This book is incredible and a must read for anyone looking to expand your understanding of American history and human nature. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.


Real life. Great insight and realities. Page-turner for me. Loved it.


Loved!. Definitely a favorite! Demon Copperhead is an astounding novel from start to finish. I was not only entertained but I also felt like I learned from it.

Persistant Reader

Save your money. Did not like the abundant dependence on vulgarity to create characters and storyline. Way OVERDONE AND UNNECESSARY TO THE STORY LINE. Book lagged into unending nothingness. I was determined to finish book, but after hundreds of pages; I had to be nice to myself and do something I rarely do…..just stop. I had lost total interest in how it might end and what might happen to the characters next. The beginning had promise, but didn’t deliver.


Idk. Didn’t read the book just wanna be mean


Hill country. Remarkable insight into narcotic effects plus a heartwarming story of love .


Pulitzer Prize book 2024. Such a great story. Love the author … read all of her books.


Wow. Potentially life-changing read for just about anyone from anywhere…

Julian JP Norwich

Pathetic people. The author proclaims a love of Appalachian mountain folk, decries how they are treated in media, and then turns everyone in this book of woes into a caricature of the typical ignorant hillbilly.

Columbia 66

Well Written. Good story. Sad but accurate description of foster care . Definitely worth reading.


Love this author but a hard read. The writing as usual is spectacular, weaving elements of nature and culture into an amazing story as only she can. That being said I almost quit on this book several times. It is just so very heavy and sad with so few uplifting moments. I would say the journey of this book feels like watching an ASPCA commercial—sad, guilty, and hopeless. Ultimately I’m glad I saw it though to the end. I even feel guilty writing this review because I love Barbara Kingsolver so very much!


Amazing. Excellent reality of todays times in the mountains


Disappointing after the hype. Be warned, if you like prolonged tales of failure, addiction, death, and depression this is your book. For me the characters were depressing and the end lacked any finality.


Bitter Sweet. Beautifully constructed novel. The characters, dialogue and story line evolved in such a natural and unforced way. Bitter sweet, filled with pain, loss and hope.

Nigel loganber

Depressing. I really struggled getting through this book. It’s dark, repetitive and sad.

Barbara Kingsolver - Demon Copperhead Comments

5 Books like Demon Copperhead (Barbara Kingsolver)

About Author "Barbara Kingsolver"

Barbara Kingsolver (born April 8, 1955) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, essayist, and poet. Her widely known works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a nonfiction account of her family's attempts to eat locally. In 2023, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the novel Demon Copperhead. Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity, and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments. Kingsolver has received numerous awards, including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award 2011 and the National Humanities Medal. After winning for The Lacuna in 2010 and Demon Copperhead in 2023, Kingsolver became the first author to win the Women's Prize for Fiction twice. Each of her books published since 1993 has been on the New York Times Best Seller list.Kingsolver was raised in rural Kentucky, lived briefly ....

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