the inheritance games – jennifer lynn barnes | review

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: The Inheritance Games #1
Published September 1st 2020 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary


Rating: 4 out of 5.


A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists.

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.


trigger and content warnings:
  • parental abandonment, physical child abuse recounted, abusive relationship, and emotional and physical intimate partner violence (off-page), cheating mentioned, revenge pornography involving a minor mentioned, alcohol consumption, minor blood depiction & physical injury, death due to heart attack mentioned, death of loved ones recounted, attempted murder, gun violence, car accident
  • taken from trigger warning database

Mystery books set in a huge mansion with secret passageways and intricate puzzles waiting to be solved will always attract my attention. Throughout the book, Avery was sent on a hunt for clues. With no relation to the Hawthorne family, Avery took a gamble and played the old man’s game. 

Avery was suddenly thrown to the wolves when she unexpectedly inherited billions from an old man she had no connection with. Keeping her wits, Avery attempts to find any clues as to why she was pulled into this game with the four Hawthorne grandsons. Nobody could be trusted and every move felt like a trap. 

One thing I admired about Avery was her sense of self. She knew what she had to do and was aware of the snakes around her. Though she was attracted to a couple of the Hawthorne grandsons, she understood that she couldn’t be spontaneous about her feelings. Avery’s conscious of the game and the complex nature of the boys. She was incredibly intelligent and observant. 

Though I don’t blame her, Avery’s very trusting of the people she already knows. In the crowd of strangers, she only has Max (best friend) and Libby (half-sister). Knowing that her inheritance is too good to be true, she barely spends her money. Libby, on the other hand, slipped into the luxurious lifestyle easily. 

“Sometimes things that appear very different on the surface are actually exactly the same at their core.”

Gradually, a story of a dead girl that connected all the players resurfaced. As Avery joined each dot while trying to stay alive, she was caught in a web of complicated relationships.

The tension between the four Hawthorne brothers was palpable whenever they were in the same room. Their strained relationship started way before Avery arrived. From the start, none of them truly accepted Avery. Who would when a mysterious unknown girl suddenly got all the money that should have been theirs? 

Grayson, the proper one, was always serious and brooding. Jameson’s much more complicated as he appeared to be helping Avery with Grandpa Tobias’s clues but had an ulterior motive. As the youngest, Xander was the most chill. Despite his light-hearted personality, there was an underlying suspicion that he might be up to something. The most detached from this inheritance game was Nash, the eldest, who had no qualms in not receiving an insane amount of money from his grandfather. 

For the romance, the development was subtle. I’m not looking forward to the love triangle, that was also used to fuel the tension between the brothers, but I’m still interested to see where things will go. 

The ending is a cliffhanger but I’m willing to wait! Overall, The Inheritance Games ticked off the boxes for the mystery genre. There were enough foreshadowing and development in the plot such that the revelation was smooth. I couldn’t stop reading and recommend this to anyone who wants a compelling and entertaining read!

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