The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (book review)
GENRE: YA Mystery LENGTH: 352 pages
Heiress Avery Grambs and the Hawthorne brothers finished the game that late billionaire Tobias Hawthorne left for them in The Inheritance Games. Now another game begins: follow the clues to find the location of the long lost Hawthorne son Toby.
The cast of the first book returns with a few new additions. My feelings on the characters remained much the same as in the first book. I still like Avery the best as she's a smart, independent, think on her feet character. Her indecisiveness about the Hawthorne brothers (yes, the love triangle continues on) was kind of annoying. The issue here is that which comes with many love triangles in that one couple has more chemistry and emphasis than the other. Jameson is much more compatible personality wise with Avery and the two spend a lot more time together as they play Jameson's grandfather's 'new' game. In book one Avery's attraction to Grayson didn't really make sense to me since he was arrogant and awful to her. He's more tender this time around but they have significantly fewer scenes together than Avery and Jameson. The books read like Barnes herself prefers Jameson.
The game this time around had more players and that led to it feeling a little bloated at times. Then one of the teams just sort of dips part way through. This team consisted of Xander (another Hawthorne brother), Thea (a Hawthorne niece), and Rebecca (the granddaughter of the Hawthrone's groundskeepers). The first book leaves off with us being told finding Toby is Xander's game and I question Barnes' decision to have this set up if she was just going to abandon it part way through. I like most of the cast, but I think it should have been edited down a little because Barnes doesn't necessarily excel in juggling them all.
My final grievance in terms of characters was how Avery was sidelined for parts of the game due to the rule in the will that she can't spend more than 3 nights away from Hawthorne House a month. There's enough happening with her that the story doesn't get boring, but I wanted to be there for every step of the way. Avery is our narrator so if she's not part of any given play then neither is the reader.
The sequel picks up mere weeks after the conclusion of the first novel. This kept the momentum of the games up and made the most sense given the cliffhanger. As with the first novel it is incredibly fast paced and full of riddles and clues. This was a large part of why I had such a fun time reading the first one and that stayed true for this one. It's like one giant scavenger hunt and it's one of those books that you don't want to put down because you need answers. The stakes in this novel are increased from the previous and things ramp up even more towards its end.
As a writer myself mystery is a genre that I have a lot of admiration for but know that I'm not nearly clever enough to write myself. I struggle with foreshadowing and I feel like every good mystery writer is always thinking several steps ahead when they're plotting. In this book for example a number of elements from the first novel, some of which seemed entirely innocuous, come back as clues with significant meaning in the sequel.
While Avery largely can't leave Hawthorne House there are two exterior location she is able to visit and that was quite refreshing and fun. I wish we could have spent even more time in them. One bonus of the setting of Hawthorne House, given Avery's inability to leave (much), is that the house is full of secret passageways. We finally get to explore Toby's wing in this book and it gives us a lot of insight into his psychology.
Compared to the first book this one had all of the same qualities I enjoyed (fast paced, thrilling, fun). That said, I still rated it lower than I did its predecessor because the continued love triangle was frustrating and the cast was too heavy for Barnes to carry. The first novel left off with a cliffhanger but this one didn't as much. There is a hint of where the story might be headed for the finale but I'm not sure. I for sure want to finish the series but I am not so eager that I'll be picking it up right when it releases.
FINAL RATING: 3.5⭐️