cover image Pivot


L.C. Barlow. California Coldblood, $17 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-64428-053-9

Impressive and arresting prose drives this vivid debut, which launches the Jack Harper series. Jack is seven years old when church leader Cyrus first manipulates her into killing a man with the promise of bringing him back to life. When Cyrus keeps his word, he sets in motion Jack’s 10-year grooming as a murderer and a linchpin of the cult’s success. However, Cyrus’s ability relies on an imprisoned creature with the ability to resurrect the dead, and a mysterious box that tells Cyrus the names of those who have decided to betray him. Despite Cyrus’s unrelenting insistence that “devolution, chaos, and the downfall of innocence” are to be sought in the name of power, Jack’s innate morality overwhelms her conditioning when Cyrus shows her a group of innocent children intended to be sacrificed. Prompted by what she’s seen, Jack must figure out how to defect before the box provides her name to Cyrus. Barlow’s gorgeous writing will easily propel readers through the rest of the series. (Oct.)