Wednesday 10 February 2016

Book Review - The Serpent King

You can blame Ryan at Empire of Books for making me read this. No, that's a lie. I was curious over this book but when I saw it on NetGalley, I asked if anyone else had read it and Ryan was so positive over this book, I requested it purely on his energy on this book (his review for The Serpent King is here). If you're on Twitter, go give him a hug.

Set in the deep South of the USA, Dill's father is the prison for an unspeakable crime and with everything and everyone judging him over it, Dill finds comfort in his friends, Lydia and Travis. Travis who is obsessed with the Bloodfall series and Lydia who is planning to leave for New York as soon as she can. Dill fears if she leaves, the darkness within his family will consume him completely.

But Dill's not the only one with worries. Lydia is worried about her friends once she leaves and Travis is hiding a secret about his family. All three need to confront their demons, but will they have the strength to do it?

Even though this sounds and looks like an urban fantasy novel, it is very much a contemporary coming of age novel and this is a strong debut. I love the writing style that Jeff showed - and to discover he is a songwriter, the lyrical style makes sense. There are some sentences and paragraphs that were just glorious! Plus, this book felt Southern. When you read a book that is set in Southern USA, I always find it discover feel right. It feels off somehow. But with Serpent King, it felt just right. The way characters acted, spoke about religion, and (from some characters), the narrow-mindedness and the landscape. It felt right, somehow.

With chapters changing POV between Dill, Lydia and Travis, it was good to see each character and fall in love with each of them separately and together. Each has their story and, because the writing was solid, I felt bored with any character and their stories. Which, in one or two cases, was parents who believed that if their lives after bad, so must their kids - yeah, there were times I got angry at the parents.

Religion is a part of this story and, as someone who isn't very religious, I did worry that it might be overwhelming and possibly forced down my throat. And while it is there and it didn't feel overwhelming.

Some people will feel that this book is predictable but I was sucked into this to noticed. This is one strong debut and I can't wait to read the next book from this author (and to annoy him over maybe getting a Bloodfall novella...)

I will leave this review with a quote that ran throughout the book, spoken by Dolly Parton: "If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one."

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