Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Reminds Me Of: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts meets Locke & Key Comics meets A Series of Unfortunate Events
Triggers: Parental Abandonment, Homelessness, Partner Abuse, Death, Stalking
Publisher Synopsis: 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.
This trilogy includes:
The Inheritance Games
The Hawthorne Legacy
The Final Gambit
Halfway through the first book, I thought "Holy $#*& THIS IS KNIVES OUT." If y'all haven't seen Knives Out on Netflix, get gone and enjoy. The second movie is called "Glass Onion" which came out in December. Similar vibes, but the first is eerily spot on with this trilogy. So if you like that whodunit with a "stick it to the family" vibe, here's your story.
Since you've got the publisher's synopsis, I'll cut to the chase. This is a trilogy that could have been a duology, or should have focused on different generations per novel(s). The foundation is fantastic:
"A billionaire who snubs his greedy family for a supposed nobody, with the caveat of getting to know the deep, dark family secrets while living in their mansion."
If this series was for adults, it could have gone into political malcontent of rivalry families and the consequences of actions. Think Yellowstone, but in Texas. However, it's young adult, so it's got 'close calls' and even closer romances.
There are three generations, and extended families (either through marriage or blood), who essentially hate each other due to past unresolved differences. The main characters are Avery Grambs, the girl willed the multibillionaire's fortune with no reason why, and the four grandsons. Yes, you heard me, four grandsons.
The question of "Who is Avery Grambs?" is the main foundation of the trilogy. Who is she in relation to Tobias Hawthrone? Why was she left his fortune? What's her motive? To answer these questions, the characters must play Tobias Hawthorne's games.
But along the way, Avery falls for not one - but two - of the Hawthorne brothers. One, a morally grey, serious heir. Another, an heir who throws caution to the wind. Both provide Avery different distractions throughout the trilogy. But who will she choose? Enter your YA subplot that, in my opinion, became a distraction itself.
Throughout the books, we learn Avery is the daughter of the long, lost, thought to be dead brother, Tobias Hawthorne, Jr. JUST KIDDING. We later learn he has another daughter, but considers Avery a daughter, because he was in love with her mother.
Tobias Sr. left her the money for no reason other than she was Tobias's "A Very Risky Gamble" (Yes, that is an anagram for her name) to bring Tobias Jr. out of hiding, his daughters to speak to each other again, and his grandsons to be more than their last names.
So, you can see why the rating? The trilogy starts to branch off in too many directions, trying to get too intricate, and at times abandons the best part of the first book - the chase and the game.
It had a good foundation, but there was a lot of fluff. Many of the plot lines, especially in the third book when a rival family and challenge coins were introduced, were unnecessary. Remember when National Treasure 2 came out, and we were all thinking, it's good... but is it necessary? That's how I feel about this series.
Drink Pairing: A Negroni Sbagliato (Sipped on January 15, 2023)
Why? It should be good, its well known, but it still falls flat.