Review of “The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Similar to the movie “Knives Out,” the book “The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is filled with family drama and mysteries galore.

The story follows high school student Avery Grambs as she discovers she has received the inheritance of one of the world’s richest men, Tobias Hawthorne. The stipulation? She must live for a year in the house that his disinherited family stays in as well. Along the way Avery must discover why she was chosen while also surviving with a family of people who may or may not want to kill her. 

The moment I stumbled across the book, I was instantly intrigued and immediately placed it on hold. As a fan of “Knives Out,” the plot is one that I found interesting. When I finally began reading it, the short chapters and the invigorating plot made it hard for me to put down. If it wasn’t for work, I would have finished this much faster than I did.

My overall thoughts on the book, without giving any spoilers, is that I really love the premise of this story. The book had an extremely strong start with the introduction of the main character, but as the story continued, the strengths began to wane. The true score is a 4.5, but it leans closer to a 4 because of the readability of the story and the relationship drama that occurs. 

For those who have read the book or do not care about spoilers, keep reading for my more in-depth thoughts on the book.


Like I mentioned earlier, the novel had a strong start with the introduction of the main character. Within the first few pages, the author established who Avery was and why should we care about her. This character development carried over to the introduction of other characters, such as her half-sister Libby and her friend Max. 

The author does a good job in showing the interactions between Avery and her sister and her best friend. One of my favorite parts of the book is the humor that arises from the conversations between Avery and Max. They act like a set of realistic friends, and with the self-censoring Max goes through, I thoroughly enjoyed reading scenes with them talking. 

However, while the introduction to her potential love interests, Grayson Hawthorne and Jameson Hawthorne were strong, the development of their relationship wasn’t the best. 

For a majority of the book, whenever Avery would interact with either of them, she would switch between being a “strong, independent woman who just wanted to survive and figure out why she was chosen” and a “boy-obsessed girl who just wants to see what it would be like to kiss these guys who may or may not want her dead.” This switch didn’t feel natural with how the character was set-up.

A big part of the story and its appeal is the riddles and mystery that weave throughout the pages. The individual riddles were fascinating. Whether it was the clues left behind in the will or the hidden rooms and secrets of the house, there was always a new riddle to capture the attention of the characters and readers. Unfortunately, the big mystery itself was kind of a letdown. 

After everything the characters have gone through and all of the riddles they solved, it was discovered that Avery was chosen because she had captured his interest at a young age, and her birthday was the same day that someone close to the Hawthornes died due to them being competitive and not putting family first. 

I reread that section multiple to see if I missed anything, and I don’t think I did. The reveal felt kind of disappointing for all of the buildup. If it wasn’t for the fact it was on brand for the description of Tobias Hawthorne and there is a sequel, this might have completely tanked the score. 

Despite the weak conclusion to the big, overall mystery, I enjoyed the adventure the book took me on. Its short chapters, multiple riddles, and interesting characters kept me invested, and I eagerly await the sequel. 

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