Jack Harper, the girl raised in a cult, the assassin, the hero, the miracle worker, the drug addict…she is introduced to the world by L.C. Barlow in the novel Pivot. I very specifically say that she was “introduced to the world” and not “she was created” because I was absolutely drawn to this character..as a human. Her emotions were real and desperate. Her growth and changes and development were real and believable. I will get to the specifics of the book next, but to have the depth and power of this book in only 224 pages is remarkable.
The characters in this book is where it really shines. Not that it is lacking in other areas, but the characters are a standout for me. Cyrus, the cult leader, is as villainous and evil as any character I have come across. But more than that, he is believable! This chameleon of a man manipulates those around him with such ease and cleverness that it is understandable why people follow him. “I have never seen a man like that before.” He is wicked and powerful and the most charismatic person you can imagine in the pure evil world he built.
The protagonist, Jack, is even more intriguing. We get to watch her grow up in the book. We get to watch the indoctrination that happens to her. Her character arc from innocent child to “full fledged vicious” to heroine. Each step feels real and understandable. I never blame Jack for any of her actions simply because Barlow writes it in such an acceptable and understandable way that no one can read this and say “I wouldn’t do that.” In Jacks position, we would all follow her Devilish Savior.
There are countless other characters I would like to discuss, but I will leave that to future readers. However, I will say that I am desperate for more of Alex in the second and third novels.
Barlow has created a world, a location , that exists within the real world, but exists within isolation. A world of cults, mythology, the supernatural, pure evil, agony, pain, indoctrination, and so much more, but this world, because of Barlow seems realistic in the most horrifying way. While reading the plot developing, I found myself thinking: “there are people like this, this is the true horror.” Yes, there are miracles and spectral powers at work, but the true villain, the true core of the horror is so well developed and so real that it is terrifyingly plausible for it to exist outside of the pages of Pivot.
The plot keeps moving, fast and full of surprises. There are conflict between brainwashing/rebellion, taking/giving lives, child/adult, physical/spiritual torment, worship/fear/hatred. There are so many levels and turn in the plot that I don’t know how Barlow keeps them all straight. But she does and it is such an accessible journey that no matter your reason for reading it, you will be entertained.
When a book starts with a 7-year old saying “The first time I killed a man…” it has a lot to live up to. This one lives up to it. The story kept me guessing from beginning to end. The story, dialogue and action flowed seamlessly. I truly was gripped right through. Barlow is an extremely entertaining writer who paints images with her words.
When I did close the book after the last page, my only disappointment was that the book was over. I am so happy that it’s a trilogy!
I read in the acknowledgments how much work Barlow put into writing this novel. I truly enjoyed it and can offer only one critique. For my own curiosities and my own desire for more, I wish we could have seen more of Jack’s growth. Her character arc was smooth and fluid and made perfect sense, I just would have loved to see more. Stating her age at the beginning of each chapter was a great thing, but I would love to see more ages. I would love to see what happened between ages 10-17. That being said, it is just a personal curiosities and jumping those years does not hurt the story in any way.
I admit that I don’t want to spend any more time on this review because I have already started the second book and I want to stop writing and get back to reading it! Okay, that’s a bit tongue in cheek, but in all honestly, I am reading the second book, I did absolutely love this story and I definitely recommend it to anyone to read!
L.C. Barlow obviously pour a lot into her story and it shows. Get it here, read it, thank me later.