The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is the story of Dillard “Dill” Early III, who is
desperately trying to overcome the legacy of his father and grandfather. His father is a
Pentecostal minister that preaches the handling of rattlesnakes and drinking poison to
prove someone’s faith, but has fallen from grace and is serving time in prison for child
pornography. Dillard’s grandfather was thought to have lost his mind to grief and took
his revenge on any snake he came across, adorning himself with their skins. The vipers
that Dill faces are in the form of his disapproving parents and his classmates at a rural
Tennessee high school. There are two fellow outcasts that he has befriended, Lydia,
who runs a fashion blog and is destined for college in New York, and Travis, who
lives vicariously through fantasy novels to avoid his abusive father. These three have a
special bond and as they try to survive Senior year, they learn to be themselves.
— Sandra, Seattle
A William C. Morris Award Winner A New York Times Notable Book An Amazon Best Book of the Year A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year A Shelf Awareness Best Teen Book of the Year Named to BuzzFeed's "Best YA Books of 2016" list Named to Mashable's "Best YA Book of the Year" list "Move over, John Green; Zentner is coming for you." --The New York Public Library "Will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower." --BookRiot.com
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. The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill's only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia--neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending--one that will rock his life to the core. In this William C. Morris Award Finalist, debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one's true self in the wreckage of the past. "A story about friendship, family and forgiveness, it's as funny and witty as it is utterly heartbreaking." --PasteMagazine.com "A brutally honest portrayal of teen life . . . and] a love letter to the South from a man who really understands it." --Mashable.com "I adored all three of these characters and the way they talked to and loved one another."--New York Times
About the Author
Jeff Zentner is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. In addition to writing and recording his own music, Zentner works with young musicians at Tennessee Teen Rock Camp, which inspired him to write a novel for young adults. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son. Committed to making creativity a part of his everyday life, Zentner wrote both his debut novel, The Serpent King, and his follow-up book, Goodbye Days, on his iPhone while taking the bus to and from work. You can follow Zentner on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter at @jeffzentner.