Pivot

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

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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Raised by cult leader Cyrus Harper, Jack Harper is taught how to kill her first victim at age seven. Terrified by her actions, Cyrus calms her by revealing that he has the power of reincarnation and the man she killed, Roland James, will be alive again soon. Filled with the knowledge that Cyrus can bring him back she kills Roland again and again, honing her skills as an assassin in order to protect Cyrus from his enemies. Jack soon discovers a secret...the power to revive is not really held by Cyrus but instead by the "creature" he keeps locked in the basement. At seventeen, Jack has become the perfect weapon but her solitude and realization that not everything is as it seems draws her back to the basement...a decision that could aide in her escape and give her powers of her own.

The premise for Pivot complexly drew me in but I wasn't expecting to love it quite as much as I did. This novel does have some violent moments and well young children learning how to murder may not be everyone's cup of tea. That being said I really enjoyed Jack's character and her conflicted emotions about her life in the cult. I also enjoyed the relationship between Jack and Roland James, the man who allows her to kill him over and over. Like Jack, Roland's character is complex and although he is indebted to Cyrus, Jack's "father", his role becomes that of caretaker, father, and confidant to Jack. Cyrus is a Satanist who believes he will ascend only by committing the most horrific acts and thus "feeding" a mysterious box which assists him in his rise to power. Cyrus's biological son is a real piece of work and I am sure we will be seeing more of him as the series continues. I really enjoyed this first book in the series and definitely recommend checking it out if you are a fan of horror novels where good vs evil...even though that line might be pretty thin.
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Firstly, thanks to Netgalley, the author and publishers for a free electronic ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

This book was very interesting to read. Written from the perspective of a young girl named Jack, raised from the age of 7 to be the ultimate assassin. With that as the premise, there was surprisingly little detail around any killings that went on. However, it did explore the thoughts and feelings of Jack, who basically knew no better.

Add to this a little bit of supernatural mystery around the man who raised Jack, Cyrus, who seemed to initially have to ability to resurrect the dead, and kill  his enemies in dramatic ways, but had a dark secret literally hidden in his basement. Basically, Cyrus was a cult leader, intent on causing as much chaos in the world as possible in order to "ascend" - to where, we never really find out. 

As much as the basic premise of this story initially drew me in, I found it a little soft in the end. The first in a series, it might not be strong enough to encourage me to go out and buy the next book. I might give it a go, though, to see what the author can do with the now 17 year old Jack.
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Strange. Horrifying. Fascinating. Macabre. Some random thoughts that come to mind with reference to LC Barlow’s Pivot. It is a supernatural fantasy, narrated by a seven-, ten- and seventeen-year-old Jack, who has been trained since childhood to become an assassin, and a deadly weapon belonging to the enigmatic Cyrus. Is Cyrus the leader of a fanatical cult or an actual, kindly father-figure? Is Jack being psychologically manipulated or does her child’s view of the world compromise what she sees? 

I’ve never been in a cult, but I imagine what Barlow describes through the eyes of George is a pretty accurate representation: the absolute obedience demanded from followers, the image of the leader as someone almost superhuman, the disassociation from the outside world. The only aspects that disappointed me were the ferrics and the red box. They felt rather simplistic compared to the brilliant setup and narration.  

(Review copy from NetGalley.)
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Oh my. Just amazing! Absolutely not what I was expecting and I loved it. Less than a day to read as I’ve barely put it down. Recommended!!
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Wow. This was NOT what I expected AT ALL! I almost put it down when the first pages offered up a six year old girl being taught to murder...  Thankfully I gave it a longer look than that (I am usually turned off pretty quickly by children and violence, particularly since I HAVE a six year old girl), because this turned out to be a unique, bizarre, cool story that thoroughly engaged me (even when I occasionally felt like I was reading through half-closed eyes). It's NOT for the faint of heart. In addition to the opening scene I mentioned, there are numerous other instances of what seem to be gratuitous violence involving death, torture, children and animals, and they are brutal to read. But fairly quickly you come to realize there IS a point to all of the violence, and it couldn't be farther from gratuitous. It's still tough to swallow, but easier once you realize that - or at least was for me.

Jack's story is unbelievable and wild and horrifying and touching and weird and utterly original. I was thoroughly engaged by her development and relationships, and the magical/supernatural underpinning was painted in with just enough detail provided - and deliberately withheld - to keep me guessing where things were going from the early pages through to the end. 

This has been billed as a trilogy; I for one cannot wait to see where things go next. I think this one felt like a full story in itself. There are clearly loose ends that will be fun to watch unravel in future installments, but there is a definite story arc that comes to completion in this book also, which I enjoyed. I hate when an author stops a story abruptly, emotionally blackmailing readers into buying the next book just to know how the one they already have ends. This book doesn't do that to you at all, and I appreciated that.

If you like your tales dark - VERY dark - and twisty and have a good stomach for violence and bizarre goings on that defy logic, this would be a great choice. The writing is strong and held my attention throughout and the pace kept things moving along at a solid speed, with occasional bursts of sharp zig-zagging that hit at just the right moments. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip into Jack's world and am looking forward to visiting (with every light on in the room at the time) again!
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I absolutely loved this book! It flows quickly, keeping you on your toes the whole time trying to figure out what forces of good and evil have aligned themselves around young Jack Harper, who can be trusted, and whether she is good or evil itself, or whether that can even be determined. The book follws Jack, a young girl living as the adopted daughter of a cult leader that seems to preach something similar to Satanism, from the age of seven to seventeen. The girl is raised as an assassin, and becomes quite good at it, but she questions how her father, Cyrus, can seem to bring people back from the dead and always knows before someone will betray him. She spends the book gradually figuring that out: who Cyrus really is, where his power comes from, and eventually how to stop him without being caught herself.
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This is a work of extraordinary imagination. The setting is mostly within a great house where magic reality creates situations and rules both complex and grotesque. The characters, though strange are believable and beautifully crafted. Despite being drawn into a complex and novel world you understand and care about its characters. The story plays out in such a compelling way that I read it in one long session.
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Jack is a killer but that's okay because Cyrus can always bring Roland back so he's not really dead. Eventually Jack is sent out to kill others and Cyrus does not bring them back.  But as Jack starts to realize that Cyrus is not the one bringing people back. and that there is a mysterious being in the basement that can resurrect things, she starts to question everything Cyrus has taught her as she grew up.  Cyrus has a mysterious box that warns him when someone turns against him so how can she possibly escape as long as Cyrus has that box?  


This book was so good and I had trouble putting it down.  I love the concept, it was one that I hadn't read before.  So many books that I read are basically the same premise restated and retold and are so predictable.  This story was fresh and new and kept me guessing throughout the book.  For the first half of the book , I didn't even realize that Jack was a girl, so when I finally figured that part out, I had to go back and read the line again to make sure I hadn't missed something and then I thought perhaps the author had made a mistake calling Jack, Cyrus's "daughter" and maybe they really meant "son".  But no, Jack is a girl and then the story took on a whole different meaning in my mind. Then I realized how brilliant it was, because just as the reader awakens to the fact that Jack is a girl that is when Jack awakens to what Cyrus really is and it works brilliantly.  I love this book, I have already told some of my students that they need to read it when it is published.  I would love to see a sequel, now that Jack has this power to resurrect, can she turn from being a murderer to a savior?
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How do you train the perfect assassin? From childhood of course.  I love love love the undertones of this story.  Cyrus is the devil thinking he can make Jack the perfect conduit to train to take over when he ascends and becomes something “more”.  However, Jack knows what she is becoming and refuses to let her entire humanity go.  She is brutal and honest, but also loves and refuses to let the world be taken over by evil.  Jack is the best.  I want more of this story
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I enjoyed this book. I will warn that it starts very graphically with a scene involving a minor and murder. The themes continue through the book. 
The writing is absorbing. I couldn't put the book down! The plot is well told and the story has a good place to end but more story to tell. The main character, Jack, doesn't have inner thoughts or a personality that is really defined. However, that could be due to her circumstances in upbringing and it's completely understandable. I will be on the lookout for the next book. 

This book was provided for an honest review.
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Written with the alacrity of the cultist’s own beliefs within the story, the author spins a frightfully metaphoric tale that could easily reflect aspects of today’s spiritually hungry. Forging ahead with the blurred lines of  no absolutes between “good” and “evil”,the reader is taken for a thrill ride that will haunt their dreams. Splendid, enjoyable and one that will keep the midnight oil burning..
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This book was confusing to me. Jack Harper is a young girl who is taken in by Cyrus, the leader of a mystical cult. Cyrus teaches her everything she needs to know to become an important person in the cult, including assassination. Jack is trained with the help of Roland, a man who does not stay dead, to kill in a variety of ways. Each time she is learning that killing is not something to be afraid of, or something that is wrong. 
Most of the novel seems to be build up and backstory to me. While it is important to know what is happening, the climax was a bit halfhearted to me. Granted this is the beginning of a trilogy, so a bit of foreshadowing and a sense of unanswered questions is expected. I just wasn't satisfied with how it ended.


See full review at: 
http://bookshelfadventures.home.blog/2019/04/19/pivot-by-l-c-barlow/
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From a young age Jack Harper is part of a mystical cult led by Cyrus Harper. Jack has a full education including the skill of assassination. Ronald James is incapable of dying and he helps Cyrus to turn Jack into the perfect weapon to be used at their will. 
I was hooked from the start I haven’t read this genre before. The writing style held my interest together with the plot which was gripping. I would recommend this one and would pick up another book by this author.
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