Jack Harper is a dangerous woman, capable of death and resurrection. Raised and utilized by Cyrus, the leader of a mystical religion, she was once a fearless and brilliant weapon against all who blasphemed. Now, having destroyed Cyrus, Jack is free to be more.
While starting anew, Jack begins receiving letters from children trapped in Infinitum who beg for rescue, and she soon discovers that Cyrus’s cult is alive and thriving, with tendrils branching across the world. One of these tendrils leads Jack to Patrick, a man who speaks of a contraption that “bleaches anything white.” Yet another tendril stretches beyond death, where the Builder and Jack’s brother, Alex, reside. Jack must now seek to permanently destroy the following she once escaped by fixing her sights on a higher target―the infamous demonic Builder, who once supplied Cyrus with overwhelming power.
Potential aid arrives from an unusual source when Jack encounters Jonathon Roth and his kill-for-hire outfit. Combined, they hope to become an unstoppable force, but only the future will tell. Jack may be falling into her old acolyte ways, and Roth may have found in Jack the very thing that made Cyrus so powerful―his own magical being.
If you read my review of the first book in the Jack Harper Trilogy, Pivot, then you know I thought this series had a lot of potential going into Book 2. If you have not yet read it, I suggest you go back and do that, then come back here to read my thoughts on Perish (Jack Harper Trilogy #2). While Pivot was a good story in its won right, author L.C. Barlow set us up with a really intriguing world that Jack had not even begun to explore. My hope was that Book 2 expanded on that world, and that the reader got to experience Jack’s evolution as a person somewhere other the compound where she grew up. On that account, Perish was a pretty big success.
Perish contains many of the same elements as Pivot, and I am thankful for that. The first book makes its bread on the intimacy with which the reader gets to know Jack. The book is told entirely from her perspective, and every scene is so intricately detailed that the reader’s experiences mimics that of Jack. It makes the story easy to get lost in. The second book is much of the same, but with more of a twist: Jack is in New York, an unfamiliar city, and she needs to figure out how to make a life for herself outside of the compound in which she was raised. In a sense, we are seeing Jack grow up. Of course, as much as she tries to distance herself from Infinitum (the global network of which Cyrus, her mentor from book 1, was a part), it always seems to find a way to suck her back in. Of course, it is written in the same style as Pivot, so the reader’s close relationship with Jack continues in Perish, even in this new setting and plot.
I like the new narrative, as well. Jack is in New York City, just… being Jack. Not really knowing what to do. Making new friends and enemies, while at the same time dealing with the old ones. The wires definitely get crossed and Jack’s old life meets her new one, and this is where all the tension-building in the book lives, at the intersection of old life and new. There is definite payoff for the reader in the end, as well, as Jack’s second chapter comes to a satisfactory close while at the same time opening things up for Jack’s third and final chapter, titled Peak, which is expected to be released in 2021. It was a fitting ending to this book, and I am excited to see how it all ends.
The biggest drawback in Perish, in my opinion, was that there were a few events that are written off as coincidences in this book that were too close to home to be left to fate. They happen early in the book and are catalysts for macro events in the story, and I spent the whole book waiting for the shoe to drop. It never did, and these events were left open. A consequence of chance. The narrative is intriguing enough, though, that it is kind of an easy thing to look past.
Overall, Perish is a very good follow-up to Pivot. The story continues the good elements of the first book while also making waves of its own. I recommend for fans of fantasy with a dark side.