Review: The Serpent King

Oh. My. Freak. I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. And it was a very pleasant surprise.

The Serpent King


Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

Length: 384 Pages

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Release date: March 8, 2016

About the Author

Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.


The words and (and concepts) “murmur,” “petrichor,” and “feuillemort”
The American South
High-quality cable television dramas
Baby elephants
Cast-iron skillets
Honeysuckle bushes


Man’s inhumanity to man

You may have noticed that there are times I don’t read the summary of a book before jumping in. I do that sometimes with movies as well. What can I say, I guess I like a surprise once in a while. And frankly, this was a surprise. With a title like The Serpent King, I fully expected a fantasy novel, or maybe dystopian. I am happy to report that it is neither.
Instead, I found a book that has every aspect of the human experience that we call life. It is happiness, and anger, and hurt, and despair, and love, and humanity, and hope, all rolled into one amazing story about the journey of three southern teenagers. It’s rare that I find a book where I connect to the characters so deeply that it moves me to tears. This is one of those books.
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a lot to say about The Serpent King. This is because there aren’t words to describe the beautiful story I just read. I look forward to reading more from Jeff Zentner in the future. And he certainly has a future as an author. This was one heck of a debut.
If it’s not obvious by now, I am giving it 5 out of 5 stars. Hands down.
Content (0 being none and 5 being A LOT)
Language: 3
Some language littered throughout, including the F-word. Not excessive.
Sexual: 1
A reference or innuendo sprinkled in
Violence: 2
Some domestic abuse (both physical and verbal)
The Serpent King is available digitally, as well as in hardback and paperback. Click on the image below to purchase it through Amazon. Seriously. This is one that is really worth buying.