The Serpent King

The Serpent King

The Serpent King was first published in 2016 and is Jeff Zentner’s debut novel. It is a contemporary story set in America’s deep-south, following three teenagers with very different backgrounds as they go through their senior year of high school. Please note that this novel stands alone and so does not form part of a series.

Growing up in a small town is never easy if you stand out. This is something that Dill, Lydia and Travis know all too well. While the three of them take solace in each other’s company, they have always been a favourite target of bullies. Now that they’re entering their final year of high school, the three of them must prepare for a time when their lives will change drastically.

For Lydia, finishing high school is the first step towards freedom. She looks forward to leaving her rural home town to study journalism in New York City. She longs for her two friends to also branch out and find their independence but doesn’t quite understand that their situations are very different from her own. Travis is content enough. Although he suffers horrendous abuse at the hands of his father, he has no desire to abandon his mother. Instead, he takes solace in fantasy worlds and the support of an online community of like-minded individuals.

However, Dill’s situation is different. His father was once a Pentacostal snake handler who is now in prison following a very public fall from grace. Dill suffers daily for his father’s crimes, discriminated against by the townsfolk and bullied by his mother who blames him for everything. With Lydia’s departure imminent, Dill begins to slip into despair as he realises he could soon lose the person he cares about the most. It’s up to him to find a light in the darkness before his depression consumes him.

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