Directed by Seth Graves
Music by Jeff Zentner and Elin Palmer
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, as he faces down bullies who target him for his father's extreme faith and his 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. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. But Dill's only escape is 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, Dill must cope with another ending—one which will rock his life to the core.
"[T]his sepia-toned portrait of small-town life serves as a moving testament to love, loyalty, faith, and reaching through the darkness to find light and hope. Zentner explores difficult themes head on—including the desire to escape the sins of the father and the fragility of happiness—while tempering them with the saving grace of enduring friendship."
–Publishers Weekly (starred)
"A touching debut…Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel’s strengths. Zentner writes with grace and understanding–a new voice to savor."
–Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"[T]his novel offers a heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful portrait of three friends and the love/hate relationship they have with the insular community they grew up in."
–The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred)
"Thorough characterization and artful prose allow readers to intimately experience the highs and lows of these three friends. VERDICT: Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell."
–School Library Journal
"A musician himself, Zentner transitions to prose easily in his debut, pulling in complex issues that range from struggles with faith to abuse to grief…A promising new voice in YA."
"Zentner combines the melancholy of being 17 with the melancholy present in the best of Southern fiction and gives us a novel that will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
"The Serpent King is a book you won’t be able to resist or forget. The Southern boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page."
–John Corey Whaley, National Book Award Finalist and 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