Trigger Warning: this book does have a rape scene
Once in a generation, a book comes along that is so profound, so earth-shattering, that every book read afterward will be held to the same standard.
“Sephro,” by Kate Quinn, is not that book.
And I know what you may be thinking because I can read your mind: “Conor, did you really write a thousand words just dunking on some self-published Amazon book with only two reviews? Isn’t that just rage fodder?”
Absolutely. Which is why I can’t stop myself from talking about it. Please, send help.
Sephro, by Kate Quinn, is one of the worst books I have ever had the displeasure of reading. To summarize the book would be to tell of absolutely nothing happening for ninety percent of the book, while vague things are hinted at. When the plot rears its head in the last three chapters, it goes by so fast as to be rendered a confusing nightmare.
As I can ascertain, Sephro’s story is this: Craela, a Sephron of nine lor old, is having a nightmare about when she was raped by her uncle Jondu six lor ago. Upon waking up from said nightmare, we meet the supporting cast, Arlaw and Dureli. Arlaw and Dureli are having a secret love affair which must remain secret because of reasons never fully explained by the plot. We also learn two things: that Sephrons can teleport across the cosmos, and that Jondu (a sephron) is in a maximum security prison. But moving away from that obvious plot hole, Craela then falls in love with Cryss, a male witch from Earth, whom she meets through the telepathy waves. Cryss’s sister, Lorianna, completely absent of anything, then tries to summon Jondu to Earth, but their father, Crysstian, stops her in the act. Lorianna runs away, and Crysstian shrugs it off with a ‘welp, she’s evil forever now’ at his own daughter, assuming she’ll end up in an insane asylum. Fifty pages later, Craela then says that Cryss and his family should move to Sephro, because of reasons never fully explained by the plot but also love. We also learn that Lorianna became evil because a girl in her class spilled paint on her art project five years ago, and clearly that sent her on a downward spiral to becoming the main antagonist of this story. Craela now has to complete an obstacle course without wings or teleportation to attain adulthood, for reasons never fully explained by the plot. Then, Jondu teleports her to Earth at the last second to the cafe where Cryss is because we’ve hit the two hundred page mark, we need the plot to show up at some point, and why not now? So Cryss and Craela uses the power of love or something not quite fully explained by the plot to defeat Jondu, and send him back to space prison or something. In the process the cafe burns down, and Cryss’s mom, Arya, dies. Crysstian, upon learning this, then gets drunk off of alcohol he hid in the pumpkin (“Not the Pumpkin!” – an actual line from the last chapter), before everyone gets teleported to Sephro.
So you may have noticed, there are about five different plots to this story, and most of them come out of left field. The whole Jondu thing, which, mind you, is mentioned in the opening chapter, disappears for about half of the book. You may have also noticed that no one’s name is spelled remotely pronounceable. “Sephro” has a massive problem with its gratuitous fantastical language, to the point where the author includes a glossary to translate all the words that she came up with, half of which don’t make any sense. Chapter 1 introduces us to terms such as: Kaplan, Largo, Lor, kaean, magickal (spelled like that), Kano, Head Shoki Coran, Ror Shoki Tanna, Clorkhana, Sartozhia, Pythacar, Jadai, Loki, and LaGala. About half of these are explained within either the text or the glossary, and it only gets worse from there.
Some of the definitions aren’t quite exact, or don’t make any sense. If a lor is basically a year (as the book states), that would make Craela nine years old, and Cryss, the love interest, eighteen. Meanwhile, the rape that happened six lor ago, would make Craela three when it happened. Ok, so what if a lor meant two years of Earth time? That still means that Jondu raped her when she was six. These are the only two options, no other option would make sense given these circumstances. Unless, of course, you were to state something stupid, and that to find someone’s age in earth years you had to take however old they are in lor and add ten, which Quinn found to be so obvious that she didn’t feel the need to ever explain this in her own book.
If the book was just that with no central plot to follow, characters that had no motivation, and a language that makes no sense, it would have been fine. Actually, it wouldn’t have been fine, but it would still be better than what we have now. Then you actually try to read the thing, and realize that the author has no concept of connotation, tone, sentence structure, and even how to use ellipses. The entire book is peppered with gems such as, “She could see the tree looming in front of her, a comforting sight,” and “Pure evil was there.” One chapter ends with the line, “They looked across the fields of [berries], without which, everyone would die,” and immediately follows it up with a pillow fight.
And you all should read it.