Review: Demon Copperhead

Demon Copperhead

Demon Copperhead
By Barbara Kingsolver
Published by Harper,9780063251922, Oct 2022, 560 pp

The Short of It:

Not sure what I expected when I picked this one up but the characters have stayed with me.

The Rest of It:

Demon Copperhead had been on my list for a very long time but it never seemed like the right time to read it. It’s lengthy and deals with some heavy topics but then my book club selected it for April so there I was with my copy, eagerly reading and flipping those pages.

Inspired by a trip Kingsolver took to visit the actual Bleak House of Charles Dicken’s fame, the story of Demon Copperhead unspooled from there. Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon is born to a single, teenaged mother with a drug addiction. They don’t have much. His mother barely makes a living and all they have is the single-wide trailer they call home. The story is peppered with well-meaning neighbors and friends. They are all quite the characters.

Demon’s relentless resilience gets him through many heartaches and challenges, but the need for a home, a real home is what drives him forward and unfortunately in this quest, he is repeatedly disappointed. Disappointed with the people around him, the people in charge of his care, the school system, the labor force. How is a young man supposed to make a  living without selling his soul to the Devil?

The setting of this novel hints at destruction at every turn of the page. Appalachia is known for its drug trade and it ‘s hard to not be a party to it when you’re a hungry kid just trying to survive. Demon encounters many people and some of those people he holds dear but the constant need to uproot everything he has to move on the next thing affects his long-term relationships. It’s honestly heartbreaking.

I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the characters a lot but it was about 75 pages too long for me. The drug details are very realistic in the telling. I still think it will make my Fave list for the end of the year but it’s not the kind of book you can read alongside others. I found that out the hard way. It’s gritty but in between the grit I did detect hope which is what kept me reading.

Have you read it?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

7 thoughts on “Review: Demon Copperhead”

  1. I loved Demon Copperhead, but I listened to it on Audible. The reader was fantastic. Which is why I didn’t mind the length too much. Incredible story, gave me so much to think about. Probably her best book (although they are all good). I bet you’ll have a great discussion at book club- so many themes, issues, memorable characters.

  2. At first I heard some mixed reviews of this one, but now I am reading almost all positive. I am a fan of Kingsolver’s earlier novels, but may put this one on my TBR list.

    1. I suspect that now since it won the Pulitzer many more good reviews will follow. It was great, not perfect. Tough subject and long. I thought it was well done.

  3. My book club is discussing Copperhead at the end of May and I need to start it asap. I know it’s going to be bleak but I hope there is some relief in it too. If it’s all bad, it will be hard to take. I plan to read the ebook copy. I felt Makkai’s novel was also too long! by 75-100 pages.

    1. Demon is not all bad, there is just a lot of bad that is maybe a little too drawn out. But it’s hopeful too.

  4. I have both the ARC and the audio version, and plan to get to the book later this summer. I may start with the audio since I hear it’s very good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s