L.C. Barlow’s Pivot is a surprisingly thoughtful and emotionally rich horror novel. As a child, Jack Harper was taken by Cyrus, a mysterious man with great powers and the ability to bring back the dead. Jack is indoctrinated into his cult, granted powers of his own and taught to kill. A murderer, thief, and addict, Jack is broken but loyal, desperately trying to find an escape. Then the world shifts, and Jack begins to realize that Cyrus is not as invincible as he appears there is a great game being played out in strange and secret ways, and there are other powers than Cyrus.
The plot moves quickly and plays on familiar tropes in new patterns, but the true strength of the novel is in the characters and their interactions—Jack, Cyrus, Roland, and finally Patrick. Jack has an innate love of killing, and a crippling loyalty but makes a slow and sympathetic journey towards understanding. Jack has only ever known strangeness and twisted kindness. Jack and Cyrus have a symbiotic relationship, sometimes understanding, and sometimes terrible. Cyrus is an interesting figure full of rage and ambition, who has made himself king of his corner of the world and seeks to become a god. Roland has his own twisted bond with Cyrus. He dies but cannot stay dead, and becomes a tool in training Jack. Their web of interconnected loyalties, emotions, and plans form the backbone of the novel, grounding the fantastical. Patrick is another lost soul, separate from the tangled connections. He is Jack’s broken lifeline and connection to normality.
Pivot was an engrossing read full of twisted relationships and otherworldly powers. Barlow managed the feat of giving both the characters and the world a sense of depth. The supernatural powers—Cyrus, his enemy the man with stars in his body, and the mysterious red box that gives and takes his abilities—all have a weight and history to them, a sense of rules, that intertwine with the characters relationships in a satisfying way. The ending, however, was a little confused and not quite as satisfying as expected, but this does not detract from the novel as a whole. A highly recommended debut novel.
Pivot can be found here on Amazon.