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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
Pivot by L.C. Barlow is the first book in the Jack Harper trilogy, a brilliant blend of mystery and horror. Jack Harper is born to a woman who can’t look after herself, let alone Jack. But then Cyrus Harper, a charismatic and enigmatic leader of a cult, takes her in after testing the young Jack’s worthiness. Jack gets a normal education in all subjects—literature, economics, history, and mathematics—thanks to Cyrus. But Jack also learns the unique skill of an assassin. With the help of Roland James, Cyrus transforms Jack into a powerful killing weapon. But Jack quickly learns that there is more to Cyrus’ world than he lets on. Living in the same house with Roland is an old magical creature, the same that is responsible for Roland’s resurrection and the magical things that Jack has witnessed. This creature only becomes tame in the presence of Cyrus’ red velvet box. Jack wants nothing more than to escape from Cyrus, who is very dangerous, and the opportunity comes in an encounter with the mysterious creature. Jack is about to receive a gift far stronger than anything Cyrus ever imagined, plus freedom from the cult.
I was hooked from the very start of the novel as the narrator describes the encounter between the seven-year-old Jack and Cyrus. Cyrus is an awe-inspiring character, with a presence that commands both fear and respect, and a charm that grabs the young protagonist in a mysterious way. The prose is very good and it gives the story a natural flow that makes it enjoyable and exciting. I loved the dialogues, the vivid descriptions, and the author’s ability to lay the emotions of the characters bare. The conflict is strong, embracing the different levels of the story—physical, emotional, and psychological. Pivot is well plotted and the author introduces twists that readers won’t see coming. L.C. Barlow takes readers on a perilous journey, crafting scenes that are emotionally charged and focused and creating characters that are both complex and real.