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

Rating: 8/10

Synopsis

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 never ending 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.

Review

Pivot is is a dark, gritty, and mysterious book. It is a story of family and strange magic, with a lot of violence. I found it to be an interesting read and a good introduction to the Jack Harper Trilogy.

This is a book that is very character-centered, in my opinion. Told from Jack’s perspective, the reader experiences everything from her eyes. And I would not have it any other way, as Jack is not only the main protagonist, but with a narrative such as this where the story is centered on her upbringing inside this organization, using a 1st person narrative is a great way to bring the reader into the intimate details of Jack’s mindset. We get to hear every thought and absorb every feeling, endure everything with Jack as she tries to find her way. Jack goes through a lot in this book. She is growing up, raised to be a killer for a man, Cyrus, who thinks he is achieving divinity. It is a lot of pressure. Speaking of Cyrus, he is a second main character and a very interesting one, as he vacillates between antagonist and protagonist. For much of the book I was not sure which he was going to be in the end, and that really added to the overall mystery of the story. Other characters include Alex, Jack’s “brother” and rival in the organization. Their relationship is always strained; Rolan, a seemingly immortal man who Jack befriends after using him as a murder doll for experimenting on; and then there is the peculiar and curious man in the basement. Kept behind a locked door, Jack is sure this man plays a main role in Cyrus’ plan for ascendance into Godhood, but she is not sure exactly how. It is an interesting and eclectic set of characters, and the way the book is written allows for a good amount of character development.

I mention the writing, here, because the whole thing feels very granular. The story takes place inside one facility over a relatively short period of time (split into two time frames). These aspects of the story allow for a lot of detail. There is a lot of dialogue – both inner and outer. Every scene is intricately told with a lot of specificity. To me, that is a bit of a risky play by the author, because if the reader is not into the story that can feel suffocating at times. Cyrus is overwhelming in his managing of Jack and his constant pursuit of elevation. Jack is extremely emotional, which is to expected of a young child being raised in this situation. And the violence and murder present in the book is very detailed. I was mostly fine with this, as I enjoy really getting engrossed in a story and none of these aspects are issues to me. But, I would not blame another reader for feeling like it was a little much.

One important note about Pivot I want to mention is that the whole book felt very much like an introduction to me. It is a good story with a beginning, middle, and end all of its own, but it constantly hints that there is so much more to L.C. Barlow’s world. There is a ton of tension created throughout the book, and I felt as though I was waiting for that spring to pop from the first page. And while there was definitely payoff in the end, I was also left anticipating very much what is to come for the rest of the story.

I found this book to be quite a thrilling read. I cannot give it a blanket recommendation, because it will not be attuned to everyone’s tastes, particularly the level of violence. But if you like your book dark and mysterious, and do not mind getting lost in the particulars, Pivot is one you will want to read. I am looking forward to Book 2 in the Jack Harper Trilogy, and interested to see where Barlow takes the story from here.

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