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Explore this Demon Copperhead review to learn what’s so special about the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Oprah’s Book Club selection by Barbara Kingsolver that gave a very memorable identity to the plight of many Americans in Appalachia.

person holding demon copperhead by barbara kingsolver in front of bookshelves

Book Review

This Demon Copperhead review does not contain spoilers.

Top-notch character development makes this novel one of the best books I ever read.

Demon Copperhead Accolades:

  • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction
  • A New York Times “Ten Best Books of 2022”
  • Instant New York Times Bestseller
  • Instant Wall Street Journal Bestseller 
  • #1 Washington Post Bestseller
  • Oprah’s Book Club pick

(If you need to recap the book first, check out my Demon Copperhead character guide and/or my Demon Copperhead summary.)

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, from the very extraordinary first sentence of Demon Copperhead, from those first five words, you just KNOW something remarkable is about to follow throughout the forthcoming hundreds of pages:

“First, I got myself born.”

Indeed, what follows is an epic character-driven story “for the ages” that only Kingsolver could tell. Why? Because she’s inexplicably tied to Appalachia, and because the authors I’ve read who have best succeeded at invoking empathy in the reader are the ones who themselves are most intimately tied to their stories and characters.

Kingsolver’s personal ties to the area and its people also allow her to transcend stereotypes and, rather, powerfully convey how she (and they feel). She is outrageously angry. She is fiercely loyal. And it all comes through in the character of Demon Copperhead, a boy representative of a people forgotten, discarded, and betrayed.

Speaking of characters, Demon Copperhead is one of the most memorable I’ve read. I’m convinced that, if the name “Barbara Kingsolver” wasn’t written on the cover most readers would think it’s a memoir.

(By the way, make sure you take a close look at the cover — it’s a tapestry of illustrations bearing greater meaning in weaving Demon’s story.)

In conveying the unique personality of a character in literature, voice is so important, and Demon’s is exceptionally distinct. He’s had a rough start and a rough everything that comes after that, and it’s through his cynical, yet endearing and “wise beyond his years” voice that Kingsolver balances the realities of his situations with a sense of hope for Demon.

As far as themes go, the theme of art being created by Demon from the depths of darkness is one that always feels meaningful to me. And the theme of water simply cannot be ignored as a force that kills several in Demon’s life, yet offers him a chance to overpower it and be reborn into a better life by it.

While Demon Copperhead was, without a doubt, a five-star read for me, it was admittedly also a slow character-driven read for me. It took me about three weeks to read, and I heard other readers describe the experience the same way.

Make no mistake, it was not by any means a “slog” or even a slow burn — it’s just the type of novel I needed to read slowly, in small doses, and savor and reflect on it. I say this so that, if you feel stuck or behind, you are inspired to keep going at your own pace.

At the end of that day, this is one book that will stick with you long afterward.

Demon Copperhead is a transcendent novel of many really important things, including social justice, redemption, and finding one’s self. It’s the kind of book that reminds me I can’t just pick up “fiction writing” as a hobby, or even a career goal, and expect it to have any significance in the world. And, it’s one of the rare books that truly earns the description: “tour de force.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Demon Copperhead worth reading?

Yes. Demon Copperhead by Kingsolver is worth reading. It is a bestseller and Oprah’s book club pick that won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the Women’s Prize for fiction. It has been hailed by critics and readers alike.

Is Demon Copperhead a Melungeon?

Yes. In Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, Demon Copperhead is Melungeon. He inherited this from his father.

Do you need to read David Copperfield before Demon Copperhead?

No. While Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver is a fictional story inspired by Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, you need not read David Copperfield beforehand to understand and appreciate Demon Copperhead.

What are the trigger warnings for Demon Copperhead?

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver contains a multitude of trigger warnings. The most prominent among them include drug addiction, abuse (physical, emotional, verbal), poverty, the foster care system, the opioid epidemic, death, sexual abuse, and violence.


As this Demon Copperhead review comes to an end, suffice it to say, Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver is a once-in-a-lifetime type of novel that will resonate with readers, and hopefully foster change, for years and years to come.

It has made a lasting mark on me, and I hope it either has or will on you too. If you read it with your book club, be sure to check out these discussion questions for Demon Copperhead,

Keep the conversation going! Share your thoughts or any remaining questions you have in the comments below.

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One Comment

  1. I, also, read it, can’t stop thinking about it. It’s moved into me. That’s how well it’s written.