> Skip to content

Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. A darkly passionate novel set in a small town in Tennessee. Three friends face poverty and prejudice in their senior year of high school: but what comes next?

Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal
Winner of the American Library Association Morris Award for best debut YA
Winner of the
Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction
A Buzzfeed Best of 2016 book
Goodreads Choice Awards finalist
A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2016
Publishers Weekly Best of 2016

Dill is a misfit in his small, religious Tennessee town. His dad is in prison for a shocking crime, and his mom is struggling to make ends meet. The only things getting Dill through senior year are his guitar and his fellow outcasts, Travis and Lydia.

Travis is an oddball who finds comfort from his violent home life in an epic fantasy book series. And Lydia is like no one else: fast-talking, creative and fiercely protective. Dill fears his heart will break when she escapes to a better life elsewhere. What Dill needs now is some bravery to tell Lydia how he feels, to go somewhere with his music – and to face the hardest test of all when tragedy strikes.

Reviews

Some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read.

Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places

This moving, character-driven story is sure to stick with you long after you finish.

Buzzfeed, Best YA Books of 2016

Dazzlingly written ... A tale to make you weep, and be glad, about big questions and small joys

Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times

A richly textured tale... The universal highs, lows and power shifts in friendship are played out by three compelling characters until tragedy brings loyalty to the fore.

Observer

An acute portrayal of small-town secrets and a moving take on faith and friendship.

Martin Chilton, Telegraph

An intensely moving, enthralling debut

Imogen Russell Williams, Metro

Zentner manages to blend humor, optimism and ominous Southern-style moodiness in this tale of three devoted teenage friends

New York Times, Notable Children’s Books of 2016

Zentner explores difficult themes head on while tempering them with the saving grace of enduring friendship

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Zentner writes with understanding and grace – a new voice to savor

Kirkus, starred review

Just a few chapters into Zenter’s debut and I was in love

Book Riot

A soul-tugging southern-set debut

Barnes & Noble, Best Young Adults Book of 2016

An absolute triumph. One of the best books I've read this year... Everyone should read it.

Katherine Webber, Booktrust

Lush and sticky with heat and a bittersweet mix of hope and despair; with shades of Donna Tartt's The Little Friend. It's feverish.

Harriet Reuter Hapgood, author of The Square Root of Summer

An enthralling narrative about dysfunctional families and the enduring power of friendship

Irish Independent

Refreshingly, this novel isn’t driven by romance – though it rears its head – but by the importance of pursuing individual passions and forging one’s own path. A promising new voice in YA

Booklist

Zentner’s great achievement is to make us believe three such different people could be friends. He blends a dank, oppressive, Flannery O’Connor-esque sense of place with humor and optimism . . . I adored all three of these characters and the way they talked to and loved one another

New York Times Book Review

The Serpent King is a book you won't be able to resist or forget. I savoured every syllable and fell in love with every page

John Corey Whaley, Printz Award-winner

The Serpent King gripped me in its coils and kept me turning pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity

Stephanie Perkins, New York Times-bestselling author

An unforgettably haunting tale that imprints itself on your heart.

Joanne Owen, Lovereading4Kids, March 2016 Debut of the Month

An excellent and ultimately redemptive tale

The School Librarian

This is a novel you do not want to miss.

Germ Magazine

Heartbreaking ... distinct ... readers will find themselves drawn by the heartstrings

starred review, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

The Serpent King is dark and emotional; it's a book that will grip you tightly and wring out all the feeling it can.

The Bookbag

The Serpent King is hands down one of the most moving, beautifully written, compelling novels I’ve read for years.

Writing from the Tub blog

Everything about The Serpent King is special

Empire of Books blog

Glorious... this is one strong debut

The Pewter Wolf blog

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781783446476

    February 26, 2018

    Andersen

    384 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Paperback

    9781783443819

    March 15, 2016

    Andersen

    384 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781448188246

    March 3, 2016

    Andersen Digital

    384 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks

Also by Jeff Zentner