Review: Pivot (The Jack Harper Trilogy #1) by L. C. Barlow

Rating: 7.5/10


From the age of seven, Jack Harper is raised by the leader of a mystical cult, Cyrus Harper. Through Cyrus, Jack receives a full education in all usual subjects―economics, literature, mathematics, history―as well as one unique skill useful to a person in Cyrus’s position: assassination. With the help of Roland James, a man incapable of dying, Cyrus hones Jack into the perfect weapon to use against all who oppose him.

It is not long, however, before Jack discovers that Cyrus and Roland are not the only ones living in Cyrus’s mansion. There, too, exists a mysterious creature in the depths of the house with supposed immortal magic. According to Roland, this creature is responsible for all the miraculous things Jack has witnessed throughout her childhood, including Roland’s resurrection. The creature, potent and powerful, only weakens in the presence of Cyrus’s red velvet box―a dark, enchanted tool that grants Cyrus his invincibility and ensures his reign.

Lonely and terrified by her life in the cult, under Cyrus’s neverending watch, Jack desperately pursues the mysterious being. When they finally meet, her world is turned upside down, as he offers her more than she could have ever expected―the possibility of escape and her own secret, magical power. 


A paranormal mystery full of intrigue from the very first page; there’s a strong sense of setting in Pivot from the get go. Also, a sense of wrong, something amiss the reader can’t quite put their finger on, drumming against the walls; an errant scream, erratic beating … that’s your heart, friend. Barlow keeps the mystery held tight until you can’t take it anymore – if there’s one thing I love in such a dark, gothic-feeling setting, it’s the very sense of dread that comes along with good story-telling. It is certainly a thrill-ride that kept the anxiety up and the boredom down.

Jack lives with Cyrus, his son Alex, and Roland … whom she trains as an assassin with. Why? Because Cyrus leads what seems to be a cult, and he has a lot of enemies for it. The intriguing thing is this: he has a box that tells him who his enemies are, and it can kill them, too.

Now, if you bundle all of that up in the drug-addled, murderous POV of Jack, you’ve got yourself quite the tale. I really enjoyed the fact that we get to see Jack through multiple stages of her live, we really get the whole tale with this one. It spans many, many strange years – indicated at the beginning of each chapter. Here’s a crash course into what makes Jack tick, while everything else is held back. Her voice is strong, and despite the fact that she is so damned broken, it is lovable. I really felt a connect with her throughout the story and generally routed for her – she is villainous, but not the type of villain that you don’t want to hug, to take them out of the moment. From about mid-book, the pace really picks up and sails towards the ending – one thing I will say is at times the quick pace and long span of years do turn into a convoluted mix which had me backtracking sometimes, but maybe it just didn’t suit my reading speed.

This book brought back fond memories of the Ninth House and the Bone Season and would certainly deserve its place on the shelf next to these big hitters – I thoroughly enjoyed Pivot and will be adding the second book to my ever-growing TBR. If you love the paranormal, morally compromised POVs, and a mystery, this is one you should give a try.

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