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Sefira and Other Betrayals

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  317 ratings  ·  46 reviews
From the award-winning writer of The Fisherman comes a new collection of stories. A pair of disgraced soldiers seek revenge on the man who taught them how to torture. A young lawyer learns the history of the secret that warped her parents’ marriage. A writer arrives at a mansion overlooking the Hudson River to write about the strange paper balloons floating through its ...more
Kindle Edition, 408 pages
Published April 20th 2019 by Hippocampus Press
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Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
4.5 stars! (rounded up for Goodreads)
Friends, my favorite part of reviewing books is expressing to you, the person reading this review, how I felt as I read this book. I think it's so much more intimate and interesting to track with the reader through their experience, rather than have the reviewer explain plot details.
That's just my opinion, so that's what I emphasize in my book reviews.
SEFIRA & OTHER BETRAYALS. First, the cover. It's one of the more memorable ones I've seen so far in
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I had the honor of writing the intro to SEFIRA. Stories of betrayal and stories featuring monsters of all types, and featuring beautiful, Langanian writing, of course.
This hard cover is one of 500 produced.

Introduction by Paul Tremblay.
Cover art by Santiago Caruso.


009 - Introduction by Paul Trembly
015 - Sefira
133 - In Paris, In the Month Of Kronos
165 -The Third Always Beside You
193 - The Unbearable Proximity of Mr. Dunn's Balloons
217 - Bloom
245 - Renfrew's Course
263 - Bor Urus
289 - At Home in the House of the Devil
331 - Story Notes
349 - Acknowledgements
351 - Publication History
Spooktober read #4!

It sounds inadequate to describe Langan’s short stories as wonderful. They are, don’t get me wrong. But the word doesn’t quite capture the enthralling weirdness you are about to experience when reading his stuff. I read one of his collections last year ( and his novel “The Fisherman” ( earlier this year, and both times, I was simply fascinated. He writes stories that are as carefully constructed
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally, finally catching up on reviews, and this book definitely deserves one. This month has been bananas, but I'm going into May (how is it already May??) with all of my reviews finished and a nice tidy TBR to work through. I'm getting back into my groove.

Hippocampus Press provided me with a copy of SEFIRA AND OTHER BETRAYALS in exchange for an honest review. My pals Sadie and Emily buddy read this one with me, and we had a blast. I loved THE FISHERMAN by Langan so much that I would happily
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Where I'm from, pain is a fact of life."


Sefira & Other Betrayals is a collection of 8 stories from John Langan, and this was my introduction to his work. I really liked the concepts of these stories, and it was fun to see the author's creativity. I buddy read this one with my friends Mindi and Sadie.

Although I liked the concepts of the stories, I had trouble connecting to the execution. John Langan writes so well, but at time, it feels like things are overly detailed. His style is very
Orrin Grey
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Langan is one of my favorite contemporary writers, so when I say that this isn't my favorite from among his books, that is only to say that it isn't my most favorite from among my favorites. Collected here are eight stories of betrayal, two of them new, one of which is probably in fact a short novel or long novelette, the eponymous "Sefira."

My favorite tales in this cabinet of wonders included the other new story, "At Home in the House of the Devil," as well as "In Paris, in the Mouth of
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, ebook, weird
Sefira and Other Betrayals is another John Langan short story collection, for all the great and lamentable things that implies. He's one of the few greatest writers of cosmic horror ever, and to get new work from him is always a blessing. As always, there are some real gems in this collection, including especially the title novella. And all of the entries are exquisitely written, with careful and sensitively crafted characters moving through their strange scenarios with a sense of measured ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Langan’s first tale Sefira, tragedy with betrayal in the narrative.
Wife and husband, Lisa and Gary, moved to Hudson Valley, Newburgh, marriage split apart due to a mans falling to lust, forbidden desires, and wildest fun promised by Sefira.
There becomes more at stake in this tale.
Lisa Martinez is on the road driving to something, farther afield, a fate, with monstrous transformations, a psychological suspense metamorphosing into a real horror.
Lisa can kick ass and will not succumb and give up
Logan Noble
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love a John Langan story. They are often complex, using multiple narrative layers to construct a puzzle box of terror and emotion. His characters are not thin-paper cutouts that exist to be tortured like in some genre tales. And by extension, a Langan monster is not your standard horror creature. His bizarre creations make for exciting reading. And, equally important, they serve a larger purpose in his stories.

Horror author John Langan has chosen betrayal as the theme for his third
I liked a lot the novella of this volume, Sefira, and some two other stories, but the rest weren`t so great, so, overall, it felt like a three stars volume.... ...more
Micah Castle
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Langan’s newest collection, Sefira & Other Betrayals (published by Hippocampus Press) intertwines literary fiction with mythological gods and demonic deities, with a dabble of weird, providing readers with a fantastic collection.

Sefira & Other Betrayals is Langan’s third book released in the last six years, following his critically acclaimed and well received novel, The Fisherman in 2016, and his previously published collection The Wide, Carnivorous Sky (also well loved and
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is for readers who prefer their short fiction a bit on the longer side, as this hefty volume contains a novella and a stack of novelettes, with only one story coming in under 7500 words. “Sefira” is the eponymous novella and does a tense exploration of body horror and betrayal. “In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos” is a moody piece that wrestles with “enhanced interrogation techniques” and captures a moment in amber that society would prefer forgotten.

“Bor Urus” was my favorite of the
James Adams
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another great collection of stories from Langan, though not his best.
The title story is one of his best of all time (no mean feat), and "Bloom" is one of the best Lovecraft riffs in ages, but most of the others, while great reads, don't stick around for very long. The concepts are solid and the prose is gorgeous, but there isn't the same oomph here as in The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies, nor the same experimental spirit.
Still, if you want a good look at modern horror,
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I’m confused why there is a repeated story from a previous collection, Sefira holds up as another fine example of Langan’s macabre literary stylings. He may be the best horror writer currently writing (with Laird Barron, and I’m not sure Ligotti is writing anymore). He can imitate the style of Henry James (Mr. Dunn’s Baloons) and put a fantastic spin on it or delve into grotesque succubis (the title novella). The final ‘novelette’ (they are all long stories with ample development) “At ...more
Jack Haringa
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: collections, horror
Langan's collection is another triumphant notch in a belt full of them, and reveals an adroit and assured writer whose skill at unsettling readers is certain. The stories are surprising, original, and masterfully told.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Read my full review of this work over at Gehenna & Hinnom:
The Gehenna Post
Nearly daily, I am blown away by the quality, diversity, and profusion of talent that is available for the consumption of horror readers. The work of John Langan is no exception, and his latest collection Sefira and Other Betrayals deserves to be promoted to the top of your TBR pile yesterday—but since it is only just available, today will have to suffice.

The title story “Sefira”—a novella that could easily carry its own weight as a standalone piece and would alone make this entire book worth
Philip Haagensen
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one took a little longer than I had planned as I put it down several times, not finishing it straight through. I needed to take breaks. Truly looked forward to reading this as Langan’s “The Fisherman” was my top read of 2017. Could this one be its equal?

Certainly, several of these stories hit me hard. The title track and lead off novella, “Sefira”, was really as close to a true page turner as these got (and you have to love the cover here!). Langan noted in the afterward that it had been
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As always, Langan delivers. I regard him as the best living prose stylist that I am aware of for a reason. 'Sefira' and 'Boru Orus' were the real stand outs for me, though all of the stories have something to offer fans of literary horror.

I really do wish more authors would write explanatory afterwords like Langan does too, especially for short story collections.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Langan returns with eight new tales of horror

The author notes in his informative endnotes that the theme of betrayal that threads through his latest anthology was purely coincidental and a surprise discovery he made whilst mulling overmpotential future releases. Although the stories are not connected betrayal does indeed dominate “Sefira and Other Betrayals” bubbling and permeating throughout the stories like a cancer waiting to strike.

Spread over 350 pages, there were only eight stories
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Langan’s anthology Sefira and Other Betrayals includes eight stories–a mix of previously published works and original stories–on the theme of betrayal, in the genre of horror. This is literary horror, and while at times it can be a bit thoughtful and slow, there’s always something interesting going on.

Sefira is a tale of a woman hunting down the succubus with whom her husband betrayed her. Lisa is undergoing a mysterious transformation as she follows the demon, her eyes turning black, her
Maximilian Bruno
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rounding up from 3.5 to 4, because I do have to admit: these stories take work. I repeatedly find this out when reading Langan's work only because I always find some connection to an older author I've read during a university class, whether that be in the style or just the layers of depth one has to wade into. Langan's short stories themselves are oceans, and while one could splash about in the shallows for their entire reading period, nothing gets better than drifting out to the deep zones, ...more
Jennifer Soucy
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lyrical Darkness

This is my first John Langan experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

8 short stories linked by betrayal and supernatural elements (including a healthy dose of mythology). Horror, dark fantasy, morally-gray characters, complex issues - loved it!

Some stories I favored more than others, but that was all based on personal preference. Sefira, a novella and the centerpiece, was the best for me. I love stories about revenge, fierce women, and honestly I've been looking for a story
Sam Edwards
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Readers familiar with John Langan's writing will be familiar with most of the style here. Langan's prose tends to be long, winding, and given to deep, thick description. There's a power in the words he chooses, and a layering of atmosphere and tone that makes him one of the best writers of modern weird fiction. However, there is a deviation from his earlier work. Whereas "Mr. Gaunt," might be called "Gothic," his previous and most-discussed collection "Carnivorous Skies" was cosmic in its ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Finally got a chance to finish John Langan’s latest collection of short stories. I’ve been in a huge reading slump since October. School and Work has taken up a lot of my free time but I’m excited to jump back into a reading frenzy once December hits.

This was the second short story collection of Langan’s that I’ve read. His previous collection, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky, was amazing and had multiple stories I found intriguing. This one was a bit of a let down for me. I didn’t connect with as
Tudor Gădălean
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an odd one for me.

I only read one book by Langan, which is, of course, The Fisherman. I'm an absolute Lovecraft fanboy so when I heard about a contemporary author that flirts with lovecraftian horror I instantly bought the book. It didn't dissapoint, even if it wasn't so close to that style as I was led to believe.

Sephira and Other Betrayals started poor. I was indifferent about Sefira and The Third, and I strongly disliked In Paris. But then, the good stories kicked in. With Bloom and
Christopher Rowe
The writing style is pretty solid, and some of the stories have some interesting ideas. I was not a fan of how many of the stories ended. The two stand out stories are "The Unbearable Proximity of Mr. Dunn's Balloons" and "In Paris, in the Mouth of Kronos." "Bloom," "Sefira," and "Bor Urus" have great premises, but their endings are letdowns. "Refrew's Course" was entertaining but felt a little flat and one-dimensional. The rest are just meh. A major problem is just the premise of the book, in ...more
Katie Mac
3.5 stars for this collection of horrifying stories. I appreciate the detail Langan puts into his stories, but as a result some of the inner monologues and dialogue felt unnaturally flowery; there was a lot more telling than showing, which is not a style to which I'm accustomed. Admittedly, I could have put more work and concentration into my reading after realizing how dense the stories are.

I think it's because of this writing style that I most enjoyed the two longest stories--Sefira and At
Zach Clark
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second collection of stories I've read by Langan this year alone. After starting with his award winning "The Fisherman", for me it is safe to say Langan is definitely separating himself from others in the horror genre. Some of my personal favorites in this collection include: At Home in the House of the Devil; Bor Urus, Bloom; and Sefira. I also enjoyed The Unbearable Proximity of Mr. Dunn's Balloons, which is essentially Henry James fanfiction. I look forward to more work like this ...more
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John Langan is the author of two novels, The Fisherman (Word Horde 2016) and House of Windows (Night Shade 2009), and two collections of stories, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (Hippocampus 2013) and Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (Prime 2008). With Paul Tremblay, he co-edited Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters (Prime 2011). He's one of the founders of the ...more
“Tempting to say she had been in shock, but shock wasn’t close: shock was a small town she had left in the rearview mirror a thousand miles ago.” 0 likes
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