Children’s book of the week: The Inheritance Games

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Our latest recommendation for young readers is the YA tale The Inheritance Games, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

One of the areas that’s been heavily cut back on as newspapers and magazines trim their budgets in current times is reviews of books for young readers. As such, it’s getting trickier and trickier for authors of books for children and younger readers to get their work noticed. This weekly spot on the site is our attempt to do something about that. If you see a book you like here, please do spread the word. And who knows? We may see some of these stories on the big screen in the future.

This was a total blind read for me and it totally paid off – what a little-known gem!  Combine the fish-out-of-water rags-to-riches of The Princess Diaries with the rich infighting of Knives out and Succession with romance of and swoony-ily illusive romantic leads straight out of Pride & Prejudice, and you get this addictive thriller of a read.

The story is about teenager Avery whose entire life has been a struggle, with family issues and constantly living below the poverty line. For as long as she can remember, she’s been working towards good grades and a place at college – a chance to finally have opportunities and support herself fully.

Her life changes forever when she finds out she has been left the entire inheritance of an eccentric billionaire, one of the richest men in America. A man she has never met and who had a large family of his own he chose to leave out of the will. The only catch? She has to live alongside his bereaved and resentful family for one year, otherwise she loses all claim to the inheritance. They’ll do anything to get rid of her, but how far is the line and how willing are they to cross it.

This was an instantly compelling tale. Come each end of a chapter it is near-impossible to put the book down – that’s how compulsive and enthralling Barnes’ writing is, she induces true desperation in the reader in wanting to know what will happen next. Avery is a fantastic character, emphatic and a breath-of-fresh-air in terms of her intellect and maturity. She’s funny, warm and really witty – it’s a real pleasure to spend time with her and get her no-nonsense take on proceedings.

Hawthorne House, where most of the action plays out, feels instantly iconic with its labyrinthine design. It’s hard not to try and picture this mansion where everything is available, every whim is catered for, yet all is not as it seems.

Then there are the four Hawthorne boys, each so intriguing and alluring in their own ways. You too may feel the urge to start fan-casting them, especially as a TV series adaptation is already in the works. Forget Team Jacob or Edward, or Team Gail or Peta – everyone should be declaring whether they’re team Nash, Grayson, Jameson or Xander (#TeamNash).

The Inheritance Games was a real delight to read – as imaginative, intricate and intriguing as the puzzles littered within it. The real mystery to solve now is how I’m going to wait until Autumn 2021 for book two…

Target age: Teens
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: Out now
More details: right here

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