Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
I read this book over the course of a day and to put it simply, I just couldn’t put it down. I’ll just get straight into this review because there is a lot to talk about! I also want to mention that I got an ARC of this book via NetGalley and through The Write Reads / Ultimate Blog Tour and Penguin books, so a big thank you to Dave who runs the tours for working on this.
One of my favourite things about this book was undoubtedly the way the mystery or puzzle element plays out. I loved how there were riddles, literary clues and brain teasers galore in this book and just when the characters thought they had something figured out, they were thrown a curveball. I also liked that there were so many mysteries in this book and multiple layers; there’s the obvious mystery – why was Avery chosen to inherit all of the Hawthorne wealth? but there’s so much more as well which I found so interesting. I always like when a book feels twisty and keeps you on your toes without being confusing or unnecessarily complicated and I feel like Jennifer Lynn Barnes strikes the perfect balance in this book.
As well as the mystery and puzzle elements, I thought the cast of characters were interesting and I thought they all fit into the tone and story really well. We have Avery who is the young ingenue with an edge, the four Hawthorne grandsons who are all as different as night and day and then we have the rest of the Hawthorne family who are hiding their own motivations and secrets. In a book like this, a bigger range of characters is so needed and just added so much to the story, so I’m glad that there were so many intriguing characters. Think in a similar veins to the family in Knives Out, I can totally see why people are comparing some elements of this book to it as the setting is similar with a range of suspicious characters and a mystery at the heart of it all.
I also really liked the sense of atmosphere and setting within the novel, with Hawthorne House being the ideal place for a story like this. It’s easy to follow along with this tale when it’s set in a house with trap doors, hidden passages and tunnels, a few libraries, and a bowling alley for good measure. It’s like a world of immense wealth and ease beyond the average persons wildest dreams so it was fun to read in that sense too as Avery and in turn, we as readers are also thrown into this totally different world.
One of the main things I would have liked to see explored more or reworked was the romance or love triangle element. It just felt so lacklustre to me and I would have much preferred if it had been sidelined all together, I wanted to root for the romance in this book but I just wasn’t feeling it. This is probably more of a personal preference because I don’t typically enjoy love triangles anymore but just thought I’d mention it. I also think some of the pacing and specifically how the chapters end felt very abrupt at times, for instance a chapter will end in the middle of a conversation and then the next chapter picks up at a different place or scene and it just felt choppy and odd. I’m not sure whether this was intentional and maybe just an ARC issue? Either way, it’s strange.
Overall, The Inheritance Games was a truly absorbing read and while there are small things here and there I would change, it was still really enjoyable and I would recommend it to fans of other Y/A thrillers like One of Us is Lying.
Until next time,