Reviews for Demon Copperhead:

by Barbara Kingsolver

Publishers Weekly
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The family of West Texas born-and-raised Cassidy Drake, who’s 13 and reads as white, runs the largest dragon sanctuary in the American Southwest. But with bills piling up and FireCorp, an unscrupulous energy company, looking to buy them out, things seem dire for the sanctuary. To save it, Cassidy plans to follow in her late mother’s footsteps by winning the cash prize at the Great Texas Dragon Race, a weeklong affair that pits participating riders and their dragons against a host of complex challenges and natural hazards. Though her skittish rescue dragon Ranga is smaller than the other riders’ companions, Cassidy knows that Ranga’s speed and agility are top-notch. When facing off against ruthless corporate-sponsored riders, however, Cassidy must form a tentative alliance with fellow independent competitors—such as Latinx-cued Laura Torres and gay cowboy Colt Meyer, also white—if she hopes to stay in the race. In this adrenaline-fueled debut, Ritter fashions a contemporary world infused with an energetic Wild West atmosphere teeming with rich lore and all manner of dragon species. Through Cassidy’s joyful and indomitable first-person voice, Ritter organically examines themes of privilege, financial inequality, and ecological conservation. Ages 8–12. Agent: Adriann Ranta Zurhellen, Folio Literary Management. (Aug.)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Thirteen-year-old Cassidy Drake enters a dangerous race to save her family’s dragon sanctuary. Cassidy lives on her family’s dragon ranch in Texas with her Grandma Lynn and her Pa; her mother, the first woman to win the Great Texas Dragon Race, was killed by a Texas coral viper. When a representative from massive energy company FireCorp, who cruelly use dragons for oil production, offers to buy their ranch, Cassidy seizes her chance to save it—and their rescue dragons—by entering the race. With hospitalized Gran’s signature on the application (but without Pa’s permission), Cassidy and her dragon, Ranga, become the 51st team to enter, joining some corporate-sponsored riders. The sponsored riders are similar to the Careers in The Hunger Games. Cassidy and her allies, Laura, Colt, and sisters Rose and Viv, are as scrappy and motivated as Katniss Everdeen—and they face equally high stakes as they fight powerful forces that abuse dragons for profit. “Our choices reveal our character” reads the inscription on the compass, a family heirloom, that Gran gives Cassidy. And this proves true of Cassidy and the other riders—especially FireCorp-sponsored competitor Ash—as the tasks become ever more dangerous. Cassidy is a take-action hero with a strong moral compass, and Ranga, though small, is equally tough. Cassidy and Colt, who is gay, read White; Laura is Latina, and Rose and Viv are cued South Asian. A high-stakes, fast-paced, dragon-filled underdog story. (guide to dragons) (Fantasy. 9-13) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.