Book Review – The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Pages: 351
Published: 7th September 2021
Genre: Young Adult Mystery

The Inheritance Games ended with a bombshell, and now heiress Avery Grambs has to pick up the pieces and find the man who might hold the answers to all of her questions – including why Tobias Hawthorne left his entire fortune to Avery, a virtual stranger, rather than to his own daughters or grandsons.

As the mystery grows and the plot thickens, Grayson and Jameson, the enigmatic and magnetic Hawthorne grandsons, continue to pull Avery in different directions. And there are threats lurking around every corner, as adversaries emerge who will stop at nothing to see Avery out of the picture – by any means necessary.

This sequel marks a return to what is a vast puzzle box; a collection of carefully planted clues and a tangled web of complex questions that are waiting to be answered. It passes by in a whirlwind, with twists and family secrets emerging relentlessly as a new mystery takes shape in a cleverly imagined setting that brings endless possibilities.

It follows on in exactly the same vein as the first book, revisiting many of the same concepts while expanding on what was already established. There are too many characters and rather a lot goes on, but the non-stop action and perpetual intrigue that the mystery creates, always makes it really great fun to read. The chapters are very short too, which is even more of an excuse not to put it down.

Avery Grambs has just discovered the reason why recently departed billionaire Tobias Hawthorne left her almost his entire fortune in his last will and testament, and after a second huge revelation she begins searching for another Hawthorne family member who everyone assumed had died in a fire several years ago. Along the way, Avery is forced to reconsider everything she about herself.

At the same time, she has to keep to her promise of living in Hawthorne House, the gigantic family home full of hidden passageways and luxurious rooms. Having been thrust into the spotlight of the media, her lawyer Alisa is always on her case as she has a public image to maintain and lessons to attend, while she is also roped into making an appearance on a television talk show.

With the help of Jameson and Grayson, two of the Tobias Hawthorne’s grandsons, Avery’s search for answers leads her to more unexpected places and brings her into mortal danger. Despite the increased security detail around her and frequent instructions not to leave their sight, her desire to get to the truth leads to potentially disastrous consequences.

The story continues right where it left off at the end of The Inheritance Games, after the dramatic twist that turned everything on its head. That was a good thing as it throws you back into the action straight away and it does not take long to reacclimatise, as before you know it there are more of the puzzles and fascinating character dynamics that make the series so enthralling.

From solving the mystery of Avery’s family background to the ongoing romantic sub-plot involving her and Jameson, everything happens so quickly in this book and the number of characters is at times overwhelming, with little room for development in some cases. On the other hand, it is never boring. The pace is ferocious to begin with, but remarkably it gets even more intense and breathless towards the end as a succession of crazy things happen.

Once again, it is all written in the first person from Avery’s perspective, and in some ways the non-stop chaos of emotions she feels reflects how she is still adjusting to her new lifestyle. She does not develop a massive amount as a person here, but she is still full of daring and adept at problem-solving; traits that make her quite likeable. The only thing that feels out of place is the romance, which lacks foundation and feels as though it is just there for the sake of it.

We find out snippets about some of the supporting characters as the arc moves forward, but they are rather like an ensemble cast of actors battling for screen time. Jameson is a bit of a thrill seeker who cannot resist playing his grandfather’s carefully crafted game, and he at least is given a new layer here, while Grayson remains enjoyably enigmatic with a hint of insecurity.

Alisa is always fun to read for always being on Avery’s case and Oren is a constant presence, but the other characters are a trifle shallow. In particular, Libby and Nash are left behind by the story and Thea’s personality is still not clearly defined, while new characters are also added to the mix. Then there is Max, who has a bigger role in this one and her manner of speaking is no less annoying.

The setting of Hawthorne House is a gift that keeps on giving, as it always has more to offer and acts as a kind of vehicle for the author’s inspired ideas. There is so much to discover from it and this time there is a sense of threat as the person who wants to harm Avery is seemingly on the inside, lifting the suspense levels somewhat.

In keeping with the flow of the book, the writing is energetic with sharp, witty dialogue. The only minor frustration was Tobias Hawthorne repeatedly being referred to as ‘the old man’, as otherwise it was highly intelligent and the action just kept on coming. The ending was typical of everything as a whole – so much happening in a short space of time with revelations about Avery’s parents, and slightly rushed.

Overall, this is a worthy follow-up to The Inheritance Games and will certainly not disappoint anyone who likes fast-paced plots and young adult mysteries. Some characters and other parts of the story could have used more development, but you cannot deny that it is a whole heap of escapist fun which many readers will fly through in a short space of time.

Fast paced, frantic, and exciting from start to finish. I really enjoyed the mystery and the puzzles once again, but from a critical point of view the story could have used a bit more substance in terms of its characters and plot twists.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐.5


6 thoughts on “Book Review – The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

  1. Oh, I glad the second book didn’t disappoint. I’m actually currently rereading The Inheritance Games in preparation to reaching this sequel and am quite intrigued now. I think a bit of fast-paced escapist fun is exactly what I need right now. Great review as always, Stephen!

    Liked by 1 person

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