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About the book
  • Published: 26 February 2018
  • ISBN: 9781783446476
  • Imprint: Andersen
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $19.99

The Serpent King

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.

  • Pub date: 26 February 2018
  • ISBN: 9781783446476
  • Imprint: Andersen
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner was a singer-songwriter and guitarist who released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He is now an appellate attorney for the State of Tennessee and lives in Nashville with his wife and son. He wrote his debut novel The Serpent King in a month, writing on his mobile phone on his commute and at night, weekends and lunchtimes between court cases.

Also by Jeff Zentner

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Praise for The Serpent King

“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.”


“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”


“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

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