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The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes ARC Review + Mood Board

The Inheritance Games

Author Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: The Inheritance Games #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 29th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

View on Goodreads | Get on Amazon

A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists, perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.

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.

*spoiler alert*

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.



Can we please all give a moment to the author for just getting straight to the point and not overdoing the tragic backstory trope

As someone who is incredibly reasonably impatient, I can’t express my gratitude enough for the author just getting to the point of Avery acquiring the inheritance, moving to the Hawthorne House, and starting the mystery. Instead of dragging out the descriptions of Avery’s poverty lifestyle and tragic backstory for three chapters before finally getting to the story.

There’s a bit reverse harem in this book

I’m emphasizing on this just in case if you’re not used to reverse harem (or am not aware of its upcoming presence), it might become a…non-pleasant surprise that can taint your reading experience. It was fine for me (but I have my own problems with it, regarding Emily, I’ll get to it later), so I’m just bolding this as a friendly tip to prepare you dear reader who might go into this book to maximum your enjoyment.

Let’s talk about Emily

I’m sorry, normally I wouldn’t include spoilers in my reviews because I want to recommend books, but I really want to talk about Emily because I am left in so much dilemma after her character’s revelation.

Emily was one of the featured mysteries that drove many of the motivations behind the character’s actions in this book, so her role was quite important. However I didn’t like her at all, and it upset me quite a bit how loved she was and how good, perfect – almost angelic – her portrayal was.

Yes, I understand the concept of not speaking ill fo the dead. But I think we still need to point how the toxic nature of Emily and her presence on the entire Hawthorne family. Emily is described by the characters as “beautiful and smart”, but also incredibly manipulating and obsessively dominating. I think there’s a narcissistic nature to her character as well seeing how unregretful she is at ruining the relationship between Jameson and Grayson, as well as how she guilted Rebecca and Thea against their relationship. She is the epitome of a toxic individual because she does nothing but inflict chaos and ruin relationships for her own selfish desires with no care of the consequences. She abuses people in her life who loves her, and cares for her, and causes so much pain. I still empathize with her heart condition and her unfortunate/untimely death, but that doesn’t excuse her domineering and toxic behaviors when she was alive.

Overall, the mystery flowed in a very logical and understanding manner throughout the entire book

The mystery was very well written. There’s a clear logic toward everything that happens, especially regarding how they go from one hint to another as they slowly unravel the mystery. This makes the book easy to follow and pleasant to read.

So yeah, I love this book. And if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be now spending hours looking through YA mystery book recommendations now.

Rating: 5/5

mood board

about the author

Jennifer Lynn Barnes has written more than a dozen acclaimed young adult novels, including Little White Lies, Deadly Little Scandals, The Lovely and the Lost, and The Naturals series: The Naturals, Killer Instinct, All In, Bad Blood and the e-novella, Twelve. Jen is also a Fulbright Scholar with advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive science. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2012 and is currently a professor of psychology and professional writing at the University of Oklahoma. You can find her online at or follow her on Twitter @jenlynnbarnes.

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