Cover Image: Pivot


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Member Reviews

I didn’t know what to expect with this one. The description was pretty vague, but the book pulls you right in showing you a young girl (who I thought was a boy for half of the book since they only ever call her Jack) being trained in the art of killing. Pretty cool, right?

Jack’s training is being conducted by a cultish leader, which sounds creepy, but picture that leader being charismatic and irrefutably likeable. Evil, sure, but you kind of like listening to him talk. Like Negan. 

So creepy cult happenings going on everywhere, and you think you know what’s going on and have a grasp of everything and the stakes. Then a supernatural angle is brought in. Powers. And everything changes again. 

Despite the constant shift, this isn’t a story full of twists and turns. I found myself surprised a few times, but there were no moments that shocked me. Twists were brought on slowly. At the beginning of the reveal, you don’t know anything, but before the reveal is done, you’ve figured it all out. Always interesting, but always a bit like slipping into a warm bath. 

I feel like the characters were a bit lacking. The main few were pretty good, but anyone else was flat and often single-serving. They didn’t seem to have a life, or even an existence, outside of what our main characters needed them for.

This book would be a good fit for fans of Supernatural or Constantine. It was definitely a fun read, though I’m not sure if I’d be in for a sequel unless I knew certain characters would make a return…
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From a young age, Cyrus has taught Jack to kill but what happens when it comes time for the student to 
question her teacher? 

This has got to be the most surprising book I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Pivot is a dark and twisted tale of dark magic, cult control and the internal struggle between what you have been taught and what you know to be right.

I enjoyed this book so much more than I feel I should have. From the very first page of kill training I was hooked and the author did not let up for a second! More than the plot, which was both fantastic and unique, I loved the writing. Barlow has taken horrific circumstances and turned them into something 
beautiful, in a way, which is how the characters see them. Let’s be honest, Jack lives in a world where killing is a joy and the author has written that point of view in a way that the reader can really feel that. 

“Murder is poetry...and I have written chapters with knives”

Who writes like that? I mean, how amazing is that singular line? Even though there were many awkward 
moments and more than a few times where I was so frustrated at what Jack was doing and why, this book was so beautifully written that I was completely captivated right from that first, unsettling page.

Pivot is the twisted thrill ride I have been waiting years in line to get on and I can’t wait to get on again!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give my 
own, honest opinion.
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Pivot follows cult leader Cyrus as he builds an empire via intimidation, force of will, and undisclosed dark magic. Combining elements of horror, suspense, and the supernatural, Pivot is told through the eyes of Jack as a young child through late teenage years as he is groomed and shaped by fear and ritual abuse to become an obedient follower and assassin for Cyrus, the story is not for the faint of heart. As Jack learns that there is a being hidden in the house that is connected to Cyrus' power, he walks a fine line trying to discover more about it, and the suspense is palpable as Jack tries to investigate the house without being discovered by Cyrus. We know Jack is losing his humanity. Jack knows it, too. Will finding this hidden being be Jack's salvation, or his final damnation? This book stayed with me long after I finished it, and is a rather short but well written one. Recommended.
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PIVOT is the first book in a trilogy, and I’m looking forward to reading more about Jack Harper. I was hoping to learn more about her in the first book by way of backstory, as the reader is given very little information about her. There was one scene where Jack’s actions are unclear to me, perhaps it was something I missed. I love stories centered around the supernatural, and this book didn’t disappoint in that regard. I definitely look forward to reading more books by L.C. Barlow.
Thank you, NetGalley and Rare Bird Books Publishing, for providing me with an advanced copy of PIVOT in exchange for an honest review.
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I enjoyed this YA thriller. Cults and the paranormal and twists and turns. Characters are interesting and motivations are unclear making for a fast page turning read.
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This one was definitely not for me and it's not for the dark content involved either.
I don't actually mind dark in my books and actually read quite a lot of stuff that touches on the bizarre and just plain wrongness, but this just never manage to capture or even retain any of my attention and if I'm honest it was really bloody confusing and also at times rather boring.
If this wasn't a review copy I am sure this would have been a DNF, I persevered to see if it got any better for me.
This was told from the protagonists pov seven-year-old Jack after she is taken in by the mysterious and enigmatic cult leader Cyrus.
This cycles all the way from age seven up to seventeen giving us insight into Jack's strange and unusual childhood as she is taught by her new friend Roland everything she needs to know about killing.
This deals with themes that some readers might find objectable especially as Jack is so young when she begins her education of death.
Jack is a product of her upbringing and the seventeen-year-old Jack who chains smokes is proficient in death and also an addict is perhaps not a surprising end-game for the teenager but then add in a supernatural curve-ball in the shape of a mysterious creature held captive by her guardian in the mansion basement and this then becomes more about that age-old battle between good and evil and which entity will eventually come out on top here in regards to young Jacks inner battle.
I feel that though originally imaginative this lost points and by extension me in its actual execution.
It looked so good on paper but didn't for live up to its initial promise.
I believe there are two more parts to come after this but for me, this was the end of the line.
There was nothing technically wrong with the writing itself this really was just a strange one that I didn't enjoy.
I voluntary reviewed a copy of Pivot (Jack Harper Trilogy #1).
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Pivot by L.C. Barlow is book one in herJack Harper Trilogy.
Pivot is written in a single pov, and that's fitting for the story and the characters.
Pivot is a read with dark scenes and not for the faint of heart.
Pivot is a unique story with great writing.
I enjoyed reading the book. 4 Stars.
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"Yes, yes, murder is poetry... and I have written chapters with knives."

What a unique and interesting story. Opening chapter has a man teaching Jack, a seven year old, how to kill. Instantly intrigued! I know this has been published previously and after a cursory glance at the reviews after I finished, I wonder if I read the same book as those who read this years ago. How much did they change as the things people pointed out and didn't like, I didn't catch. How very curious.
"Yes, yes, murder is poetry... and I have written chapters with knives."

What a unique and interesting story. Opening chapter has a man teaching Jack, a seven year old, how to kill. Instantly intrigued! I know this has been published previously and after a cursory glance at the reviews after I finished, I wonder if I read the same book as those who read this years ago. How much did they change as the things people pointed out and didn't like, I didn't catch. How very curious.

What I loved about this is it has a bit of a sorrowful vibe from the get go. A seven year old kid (named Jack and who I stupidly thought was a boy until 60% in), is primed by Cyrus to be a killing machine as he (Cyrus) works to transcend himself up and above humanity. This isn't the work of God. He is on the other side of the veil and his manipulation and cult like fascination due to certain *powers* he wields, brings forth a purpose with no real ending. No real reasoning. And for this, I was utterly intrigued.

We see Jack through ten years. We see how she interacts with Roland and Cyrus and how smart she is in putting two and four together. To be honest, the last quarter of the book, while still fascinating, did begin to lose a little bit of luster. However, it did leave me wondering where does it go from there? But maybe that's a question that won't ever be answered and that's kind of the point. Seeing as this is the first in a trilogy, maybe I will get some answers... but I'm sure if I care to - and I don't mean that in a bad way. I'll certainly be side eyeing any red box that comes across my path and I certainly would be interested to see where this trilogy goes.
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Thanks to Netgalley for the free copy in exchange for my honest review

I know other reviewers have mentioned this as well, but man, talk about an opening to a book. Seven year old Jack is getting a life lesson, and that lesson is in killing. Jack is being trained into a weapon that Cyrus can use and keep at his disposal. Cyrus is the leader of a powerful cult and he has powers beyond Jack's imagination. 

There is plenty of violence to go around in this book, and I can see this not being for everyone. I also know that the first person perspective isn't a writing style most like - I'm not sure why - but that's always good to know before starting. This is a book where you need to suspend some reality, this falls into the paranormal/horror fantasy genre. I found this really absorbing and captivating. Barlow was able to keep the pacing up to where I kept saying to myself, "one more chapter", and that's always a positive! 

We go through a decade with Jack, from age seven to seventeen, and see the growth within the cult. How Cyrus is grooming her to be something she slowly realizes she doesn't want to be. She knows the secrets to Cyrus' powers and she is desperate to hold onto her humanity. Oh, I will mention, that I was 100% positive that Jack was a boy for a good portion of the book, oops. There were some questions and things were left open-ended, BUT you have to keep in mind that this is book one in the Jack Harper trilogy. I'm definitely curious to see where things will go from here and where Barlow will take Jack.
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I enjoyed this title, though i thought it read more as a YA book than a regular adult fiction. The first third or half had a few clunky bits here and there, but I thought the whole mystery of revealing just what was the source of the villain's power was compelling. How the the strange things in her environment fit together was what kept me interested until the end. I would have liked a little more grittiness and realism Jack's preparation and her experience as an assassin. They came off as perfunctory, and lacking immediacy and real peril. It read a bit like an 80s movie montage...and not in a good way.
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It had an interesting premise that could have been expanded on in more detail, but wasn't. The start of the main character's redemption story is not entirely believable, but of course desirable and so I suspend my disbelief. I'd be interested to see where the story goes over the next two books however.
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Thank you to Red Bird Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

So- here's the deal. And this isn't even a matter of like suspending disbelief or any of that because for a while it was a really good, if not horrific grimnoir satanic book. But then? Then I just got really confused. 

Jack is basically taken in by a cult that is led by the devil (no, the actual devil) whose followers think he is the coming savior. And Cyrus (that's the name the devil, who has taken human form, is going by these days) has convinced everyone that Christians don't even really believe in God, just give them a hot minute and they will believe in Satan like really quick.

And while I think the part about turning to Satan is most definitely extreme. There are studies pointing to this generation holding the largest amount of atheists and agnostics to date- so there's that.

On a much broader scale, we a lot on the idea of angels vs. demons (or fallen angels, even) - if you look at Dogma, The Library of the Unwritten, Good Omens etc... there is a lot of exploration of what is actually good vs. what is actually evil, and how either extreme can go too far and cause issues. Or, how they can, actually work together. But I digress (which is real easy to do when you aren't sure what is happening to begin with).

So Cyrus takes a kid in, named Jack (I think he took him or bought him or just kidnapped him from his mom, who was an addict- not really clear on that point). Pivot is entirely told from Jack's point of view. However, it jumps back and forth across timelines (before and after Cyrus). So it is jack as a kid and then Jack while he's in college. And I've read books that take this structure before, so it isn't something I'm not used to but I this is really where I started losing track of everything and felt like I needed an etch-a-sketch.

Because the dots weren't connected. During the time as a kid, with Cyrus, he is being trained as an assassin, thief and basically learning all about what Cyrus is, and indoctrinated into the belief system,  and there is a mysterious box (that I still don't completely understand but has some magical power beyond what is already outlined in Cyrus being... well the devil). 

The other part is told from"post-Cyrus" when Jack is in college. And here is the part that really did me in. Because I'm not sure if it is like Jack blocked it all out, but he didn't because he's suffering from PTSD, I think because, even if he doesn't know it, I think he's showing all the signs of it. He has a drug problem, he's partying constantly and just not healthy.

Some might consider the next paragraph a spoiler- it is a reveal - one shocking reveal that I'm going to mention- because I have to- but it isn't the end but- skip it if you need.





And then here is the real kicker-- because-- and again-- this is really when I started looking at reviews because I didn't want to start offending people by misrepresenting things I didn't understand- but no- this is what it is. Like I don't know 70%  into the book there is this big reveal that Jack is actually not a boy.  And not like he came out or is trans or identifies as... like he's a woman but that is not what the plot has you believe. BUT I DON'T KNOW WHY. 

I don't even mean I don't know why for the character. I mean I don't know why in the like the book- like what was the point. I would go back and reread to figure it out except- I'm not sure I would completely understand it even if I tried. Or then again- maybe I'm just an idiot and it was right there in plan site the whole time- and I just didn't figure it out. I'm not really sure. Because if you haven't noticed- I don't know much of what I read at all. 

And the way it keeps jumping back and forth (and yeah looking back on all the sexual exposure Jack has as a child- ok maybe there were clues- but then was the devil trying to convince Jack he was a boy or should I have known)? Except it doesn't help that the way they move from one timeline to the next is really jarring. Like whiplash jarring. So it didn't help my skills of deduction? 

And if is what Cyrus was trying to do... why not let the readers in on it- like- give us more back story or motivation or a plot device. Like still...

And look, again, maybe I'm an idiot- I'm really willing to take this into consideration. Maybe this book was just like  that wrote this horror, satanic, cult, social experiment book that just went completely over my head. 

I'm completely willing to accept that. If you read this book and you want to throw something at me and say ... DID WE READ THE SAME BOOK? BECAUSE THIS IS GENIUS! THIS IS A COMMENTARY ON X, Y, AND Z (well outside of what I did compliment it for up front), I get it. No problem.

I'm willing to take that stance of, its me not the book, it is me on this one. OR even that it is the edition of the book I read.  And if it is a question of this edition being a chopped up, mess of the original- then please don't come after me because I can't help what happened there. 

Last. Lord. The ending. I don't even know. It's like. Jack thinks about doing something. Is about to and then boom. Book ends. I know there is another book coming but still. I was like. But what because it is all ambiguous on what or whether and consequences of such actions if it happens? 

So if you were wondering why I hadn't posted this review a month after I read the book?Now you know why. It is near migraine inducing. If anyone does read it or has read it... I'd love to hear from you... because I'm just curious. Some people REALLY loved it. Seriously. Some people DNFd it. Some hated it. And then some read the old version. And I? I was just confused.
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Metaphorically heavy, deeply disturbing and quite honestly, solidly written with what is probably an unrelaiable narrator vibe this mystery was solid and kept me on the edge of my seat while reading.  I really enjoyed the book and felt that it was interesting, even if I had to suspend disbelief at some point.
I had a very few minor niggles, which reduces my rating somewhat, though it's hard to explain exactly what it was. There were a few inconsistencies, I felt, in behaviour and motivation, but that was all.
An enjoyable read.
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This was a great read - I flew through this in a couple of nights and instantly wanted to read a sequel which is frustrating as it's not even released yet!  Fast plot, interesting characters, some intense horror scenes and a closed ending that means, if for some reason there isn't a sequel, this one finished without a cliffhanger.  Good times.
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I don’t read much horror, so maybe I was expecting the wrong things from this book, but even though I was interested and finished it quickly, I never really got invested in any particular character or story line. Very little is learned about Jack, and what is discovered is told point blank to the reader by her internal monologue or another character. Alex was disappointingly two-dimensional, despite the potential for interesting conflicts between him and Jack that would have worked to develop both characters better. Roland was great, but his motivation for his actions do not line up well with what we learn of his character.

Cyrus was the most developed character by a long shot, yet even when his back story is revealed his actions seem lacking in depth. That being said, his relationship with Jack is well developed and realistic, showing a nuanced example of an abusive relationship, gas-lighting and all. A scene later in the book almost spoils this, however, as Cyrus all but spells out to Jack that he has manipulated her into being and doing what he wants. He may as well have put on a t-shirt saying ‘You are disposable, any loyalty you feel to me is false’.

The fantasy/sci fi aspects of this book are a mixed bag. The 'creature in the basement' was a welcome addition to the book, though I wish more was explained about the source of its power, and the power behind Cyrus’s mysterious velvet box. Without this, the effects brought on by the box and the creature seem almost arbitrary, and I’d prefer more limits were placed on the magic to make the book seem more grounded in (the book’s alternate) reality.

The plot of Pivot seemed to wander until about halfway through the book, when events get put into place, Jack (finally) begins learning about her world, and a looming event brings a sense of urgency to the novel. Jack’s descent into evil is abrupt and fairly emotionless, and I struggled to sympathise or even care about her experiences. I thought the drug use in the book was poorly portrayed, as Jack never seems to suffer any typical consequences of such a habit. The conclusion is satisfying, if a bit hollow, because the plan that brought events to a head is never fully explained. Cyrus’s endgame seems very poorly thought out, considering the man is supposed to be very good at what he does.

There were definitely moments in the book that tackled typical fantasy/sci fi themes, as well as more complex moral and religious questions. I particularly liked the line “Wings will grow on anything that will swear off biting…” but that brings to light another issue—Pivot seems more like a prequel to a fantasy series than it does a story in its own right. If I were already invested in Jack’s story, or if I knew more about Alex and Roland, I think I may have enjoyed this book substantially more. There’s definitely an interesting cast of characters, and a fascinating magical system, but in this book, with Jack’s ignorance and vulnerability serving as the reader’s only window into the story, the characters and world failed to truly shine.

Nevertheless, this book was a quick and interesting read, that I’d recommend for fans of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim novels, and those who enjoyed Brent Weeks’ The Night Angel Trilogy  or Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin series, but would prefer a less classical fantasy setting.
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I read this book without realising it was part of a trilogy. Luckily it was the first in the series! That being said, I'm not totally sure I'll continue on with the trilogy.

Not that I hated the book; in fact I kind of enjoyed it. It was interested to read and I loved the premise. Written from the POV of Jack, a teenage girl raised from a young age to be an assassin, you'd expect there to be more details around the killings, but that was glossed over a little.  

As much as the idea of the book caught my attention and the cover I saw was eye catching as well, I just wasn't convinced. I wasn't sure. It was hit and miss.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Horror being one of the few genres I rarely visit, "Pivot," a claustrophobic gothic about a boy raised as an assassin by a mysterious cult leader, took nearly its full length to impress itself upon me. You need a certain mindset to sink into a book in which young Jack, fearful of father figure Cyrus, hones killing skills, at first on a perennially reincarnating uncle figure and then on strangers. L. C. Barlow writes convincingly, if a little at a distance, of this unlikeable world, especially the gory parts. But it is only when teenage Jack begins to explore his house for the source of Cyrus's power, that the book accelerates and I thoroughly enjoyed the final third with its sinuous plot twists. For horror fans and toe dippers like myself.
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Okay, how do I explain how much I loved and hated this book? 

Because I hate books that touch on Christian-based mythology (I grew up as a non-practicing Catholic and they generally give me the heebie-jeebies.) I hate reading 1st person. And I hate it when characters use drugs. This book has all three. And I couldn’t freaking put it down.

Jack begins training as a seven year old child. Training for what? To kill. Her victim comes back to life every night, though, so she’s easily transformed from innocent child to deadly killer. 

The insidious evil of the main antagonist drips from the page, and I found myself sick a few times at the thought of a child raised by this level of foulness. 

But I couldn’t stop reading. 

Jack’s voice, vulnerability, strength, and perseverance kept pulling me back. I honestly didn’t want it to. I wanted to throw this book into the corner of the room and listen to some happy pop tunes, but it kept pulling me back to find out what happened next. 

The drug usage was a huge personal turn-off. That said, it didn’t feel gratuitous. Jack was running from herself and the evils she had done. I didn’t want to read about it, but it made sense.

My only real beef (besides the fact that if I wanted to feel this horrified I’d actually venture back to the church) was the ending, which I felt wrapped up too neatly/easily and then kind of left us hanging.

If you like literary horror or horror based on the Christian good vs evil, God vs The Devil mythos, this book will hit all the buttons for you. It will also appeal to you if you’re a fan of grimdark, as the main protagonist does some pretty nefarious things herself.

I was allowed to read this book free from NetGalley for a fair and honest review.
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I wanted to like it but it just wasn't for me. I will say that the characters seemed well-fleshed out and the story had an interesting plot.
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Thank you Net Galley, L.C Barlow and the publishers for the advanced reading copy. I love horror and psychological drama, this book was both! Definitely an original. Jack is being raised in a cult, or following of very evil people. However being only 7 Jack does not really realize the implications, rather just goes along and learns well. This book is dark, sometimes horrifying, sometimes truly enlightened. Beautifully written this is not just gore and horror. Its a good reflection on how children are raised and what it means to be good or evil. I must say I was originally confused at Jack's gender. With the name and all I assumed Jack was male. There were a few comments and descriptions that confused me. (but I was too intrigued with the story to go back and really ponder.) Eagerly awaiting the following books.  This was advertised as the first book in a trilogy. Sometimes that means there is really no completion to the story line. Not here! The finale was wonderful and only made me excited to hear more.
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