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Sefira and Other Betrayals

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  563 ratings  ·  73 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 gro ...more
Kindle Edition, 408 pages
Published April 20th 2019 by Hippocampus Press
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Sadie Hartmann
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 2019-ther
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 lit
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 Kr
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 emoti ...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 ea
Micah Hall
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I've been reading each short story in between longer reads and have continued chasing the dragon with John Langan to regain that feeling I had when I first read Langan's The Fisherman. The tough thing about these collections is the variance in my enjoyment...don't get me wrong, all of the stories are expertly written and entertaining, it's just that I want every one of them to be of the quality of The Fisherman dammit! haha

That is unfair, of course. Few novels will reach that height for me a
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 collection
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
Jon Hilty
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Finally finished it! As hinted at by the title of the collection, the stories within all orbited around a betrayal of one sort or another. In the hands of a more cliche-prone writer, I could see myself hating something like that. But John Langan? I'd read his accounts of reading instructions on how to boil an egg, confident he'd make it interesting reading. As usual, he wrote some fantastic weird and/or literary fiction here. I'd read one of the stories before (Bor Urus, in I believe Year's Best ...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 received) in 201
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 collect
3.5. This began really strong though sometimes I found the writing a little convoluted. The first story, a novella really, about a wronged woman chasing down a succubus was very good, although the writing a little hard to follow. But once I got used to the writing style the story was a real page-turner. That can’t be said for all of the stories though. Perhaps, it’s the short story format that I struggle with ( which is totally on me and not the author) but ultimately this was just ok for me. Wh ...more
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, La
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 H ...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. ...more
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Read my full review of this work over at Gehenna & Hinnom: ...more
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 th
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 re
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.
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 Hom
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 i
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 t
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, cosmic-horror
3.5/5 The roundup to 4 stars is me being slightly generous, since some of these stories were not great. But when John Langan writes a good story, it always subverts and exceeds my expectations greatly.

Betrayal is the name of the game in Sefira, and as you'd probably expect, most of the betrayals have to do with some type of infidelity in a romantic relationship. Not all did, but I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of variety. I expected more of the inventiveness I got in The Wide, Carnivor
C. Varn
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
SEFIRA AND OTHER BETRAYAL is seven short stories and a novella all on a theme. John Langan's collections are often cohesive although in prior collections there were some more radical stylistic shifts. Here Langan lays into his highly atmospheric and very descriptive style, which often employs long sentences in a particular cadence that reminds one of an author like Henry James. It gives Langan a literary quality often lacking in his weird fictional peers--although the entire genre has been made ...more
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, imm ...more
S O'Keeffe
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Langan is good, he's really fucking good. The titular story, 'Sefira' is an action packed cross-country nightmare. The slow teasing out of the events that have led the protagonist of their quest for vengeance makes it all the more compelling. 'In Paris, in the Mouth of Kronos' posits an evil and wicked protagonist that is entirely unaware of how sickeningly depraved they are. 'At Home in the House of the Devil' is a solemn and masochistic exploration of guilt that includes one of the best e ...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 Shirle ...more

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