Demon Copperhead

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Demon Copperhead book cover
Barbara Kingsolver 2022 – Pulitzer Prize Winner

It sneaks up on you, this book.

Damon Fields, better known as Demon Copperhead, is no shrinking violet. His voice is a stream-of-consciousness monologue, delivered at sometimes-manic locomotive speed.

Unlike the timid protagonist of David Copperfield, on which Barbara Kingsolver loosely based this book, Demon fights back when he can. Still, it’s hard to keep fighting when he is exploited by the systems that are supposed to have his best interests at heart: the social system, educational system, and finally the medical behemoth that gets to make the final punch.

Demon, the voice of the Appalachian opioid crisis, does fight back, nevertheless. Whether he wins the fight – well, that won’t be addressed here.

The real message of this Pulitzer-winning novel is clear even if you haven’t read Dickens’ story of child exploitation in early 19th-century England, but if you read Demon Copperhead with some knowledge of the story of David Copperfield you’ll experience an added dimension. (David Copperfield is very long; if you can’t invest that kind of reading time you could watch one of the many movie adaptations.)