The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is the perfect distraction of a novel that I desperately needed in 2020. Reminiscent of Knives Out, this book is half wish fulfillment and half juicy mystery with a twist-filled plot and chock-full of delightfully quirky and endearing characters.
This isn’t Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ first book and from what I’ve heard — though I regret not reading her sooner — is that her books are all deliciously action-filled and fast-paced with charismatic young woman at the helm. I can’t believe I’ve never picked up her books before — I’ll certainly be remedying that soon!
This book tips her writing career to over 20 published novels and introduces readers to Avery Kylie Grambs, a teenager who is wicked smart, practical, and wise beyond her years. She lost her mother and lives with an older half-sister, though it’s unclear who is the dependent in their relationship. She’d rather sleep in her beat up car than deal with her sister’s on-and-off loser of a boyfriend. Her world is turned upside down when a smartly dressed teenager summons her to the estate of his late grandfather — the enigmatic billionaire Tobias Hawthorne. At the will reading, she’s as stunned as the rest of the Hawthorne family. The will proclaims her the sole heir to over $60 billion — a man she has no recollection of ever meeting.
What follows is a worldwind as the world and the Hawthorne family attempts to uncover why she, of all people, was chosen. Soon, she’s drawn into the mystery, relying on clues in the will and letters he left her and his family.
It’s hard not to get swept up with Avery’s windfall and all that it entails, making the book a pageturner just to see what luxuries and new privileges her heiress status will grant her. It was a bit like a Cinderella story and even though this book was heavily plot focused, I was charmed by the worldbuilding. As part of the will’s stipulations, Avery has to live in the house for a year and that means attending a posh private school as well. I loved the scenes where Avery had to navigate her new status.
I loved her relationship with the boys. They were integral to the story and I could have read chapters of just their point of view — they were so well-written and complex. Though it’s hard to truly know who to trust and what to believe in a book like this — where anyone can be the villain and motives are as secret as the twists, I found each boy endearing. The cast of characters; from Tobias’ mother-in-law and Oren, Avery’s personal bodyguard, made this book feel cinematic and sprawling, as if I had an entire series to get to know these characters, instead of just a few pages.
By the end, I was breathless with reveals and new questions. I was even content to not have everything wrapped up tightly, so impressed with the scope of the story that I was happy to have just experienced it.
This is certainly one of the best books I’ve read in 2020 and was so glad to have it. I loved it.