The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (The Inheritance Games Book 3) [Major Spoilers Ahead]

Book Review

Title: The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (The Inheritance Games #3)

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller


Avery’s fortune, life, and loves are on the line in the game that everyone will be talking about.

To inherit billions, all Avery Kylie Grambs has to do is survive a few more weeks living in Hawthorne House. The paparazzi are dogging her every step. Financial pressures are building. Danger is a fact of life. And the only thing getting Avery through it all is the Hawthorne brothers. Her life is intertwined with theirs. She knows their secrets, and they know her.

But as the clock ticks down to the moment when Avery will become the richest teenager on the planet, trouble arrives in the form of a visitor who needs her help—and whose presence in Hawthorne House could change everything. It soon becomes clear that there is one last puzzle to solve, and Avery and the Hawthorne brothers are drawn into a dangerous game against an unknown and powerful player.

Secrets upon secrets. Riddles upon riddles. In this game, there are hearts and lives at stake—and there is nothing more Hawthorne than winning.

Rating: 5 Stars

The opening to The Final Gambit was amazing despite it being several months since I read the Hawthorne Legacy I found it really easy to jump back into the story and it definitely kicks off with a bang. Avery is still trying to figure out why she was chosen by Tobias since she knows that she isn’t related to the Hawthorne family in any way but there is a strong connection between Toby and her mother which Avery is still trying to untangle and this is made harder knowing that Toby is still alive and out there somewhere. Initially, Jameson and Greyson aren’t in the picture since Jameson is travelling the world looking for clues and finding some along the way but they don’t make any sense at the moment and Greyson is at Harvard but with Avery’s 18th birthday coming up both come home. This also clashes with the arrival of Eve at Hawthorne House, Eve is Toby’s daughter and the only people that know this are Avery and Jameson. Eve explains that Toby has been kidnapped by someone that knew who he was and she was told to come to Avery if anything ever happened to him. This obviously hurts the family especially Greyson since Eve looks exactly like Emily but Avery understands her more and more with each day that passes since she is focused on only getting Toby back.

As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, whoever took Toby doesn’t seem to want him for ransom or for the disk he took from Avery since they send it back to him with a coded message about revenge. This could only relate to the fire on Hawthorne Island but none of the families seem to be involved but it was heart-breaking to realise that Greyson doesn’t know that his father is dead and Avery has kept this from him but I agree with her choice since his mental state is very fragile right now. After the first letter Avery spots more and more clues in the notes but they don’t add up since it has to be someone who knew Toby, knew what he did on the island but isn’t directly related to any of the families involved or it could be about something completely different. They do get some information on the disk from Skye of all people, who doesn’t know what it is but she does know it was very important to Tobias and when Toby escape Hawthorne House with it her father was furious. This deepens the mysteries we are dealing with since the pieces don’t seem to be fitting together yet but I have a feeling that between them all they will figure it out, the question is can they solve the puzzle before something serious happens to Toby. I feel like there is a similar vibe to the Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series with each book getting darker and I feel like someone might be seriously injured or potentially killed in this book since I don’t see another way Barnes can do better than all the scares and angst in the second book.

As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, Avery is getting frustrated that nothing is happening and the game involving Toby doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. However, it is Jameson who makes her realise that the person that has Toby might not have any connection to Tobias since the way they are planning their games are completely different so they just need to wait for the next clue to come and hope it is something they can use. Meanwhile, Tobias left another present for Avery and it was only to be given to her if she met Eve which means Tobias knew about her and still picked Avery as his heir. This present is her own game centring around chess since the first clue is the Queen’s Gambit, a move in chess where you sacrifice one piece to take control of the board but the question is who is Avery’s piece she needs to sacrifice to control the rest. In the vault they find the jewelled chess set and one piece contains a note from Tobias which is their next clue but they are now stuck about what that clues means and what the others items that Tobias left for Avery mean. Honestly, the games are getting harder and with the tension rising I can’t wait to see what is going to happen now.

As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, we have two major games in play, the one with Toby’s kidnapper who they have now spoken to after opening the combination box containing a phone with a single number and a countdown timer. After speaking to the mysterious man going by Luke, they are pointed in the direction of the story relating to the prodigal son. However, they are very quickly side-tracked trying to figure out who the third person and second son is but they don’t know who is who in the story. At first the think its about Toby and Tobias and there is another Hawthorne out there but that is shot down since Tobias was many things but never unfaithful. Then they think that Tobias might be on of the sons but he has no living relatives and no siblings. However, Jameson when he learns about Avery’s game makes the connections that it might be real game and they need to ignore Luke’s game for now. When Avery finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together she is led to her next clue but she has no idea what Tobias meant for her to learn or find with the game and I have a feeling the answers are going to be on the corrupted USB stick and she needs to solve the other clues to figure out what that means. In between this Avery is witnessing the strange relationship between Grayson and Eve which she doesn’t think is a good idea because of Eve’s connection to and Grayson’s history with Emily but it seems to be happening anyway. Despite this with every new unsavoury thing they learn about Tobias the more Grayson’s image of himself is falling away and he has no idea what is going to be left of him when the game is done.

As we cross into the second half of the novel, Avery and the others are becoming more and more frustrated at not having the answers when they suddenly begin to arrive in full force starting with a call from Toby’s captor. Avery learns that this man is Vincent Blake and that Tobias used to work for him until he learn the kind of man he was working with and double crossed him to become a better version of him. Vincent didn’t do anything at the time because he appreciated the fact that Tobias knew how to play the game but something changed that and it was the birth of Tobias’ grandsons and the disappearance of Toby. Vincent played a huge part with Xander’s father who wanted his son and was even prepared to fight for custody of him so Tobias ensured that he would never be able to do that keeping Xander for himself. Isaiah still wants to be a part of his son’s life and that terrifies Zander into fleeing because these boys have never had love without condition or without pain in the case of their mother. Isaiah went through the same process as Tobias learning to Blake really was and fleeing from him just without the double crossing and went to living a life where he’d never have to work from men like Blake and Tobias again. Now they can put a name to the voice on the other end of the phone they just have to figure out why Blake targeted Toby presumably the hardest of the Hawthorne family to pin down since he faked his death rather than going after one of the grandsons especially after the death of Tobias.

As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, Avery ends up uncovering one of Tobias’ darkest secrets and it explains why Blake is targeting her and Toby in the first place. It seems that Blake’s son, Will or Liam ended up getting Mallory pregnant when she was only 16 and not allowing that kind of behaviour since she was being manipulated Tobias did away with Liam hiding his body within Hawthorne House and its grounds. This secret was eventually uncovered by Toby as well as his connection to the Blake family and this is the real reason he left Hawthorne House. Avery was chosen by Tobias because he knew that Blake would come after his family after his death and he wanted to direct his wrath from those he loved so Avery was chosen to be cannon fodder for Blake’s attacks but Tobias also knew there was a good chance Avery would survive these attacks and grow stronger. Now the final plays have to be made since Avery has removed Eve, Blake’s spy from Hawthorne House and he still has Toby but since the Queen’s Gambit has been mentioned a lot I am thinking a sacrifice is going to have to be made for control of the board and Avery being the person she is might sacrifice herself leaving everything in Toby’s hands as the prodigal son returning rather than risk the lives of the people she has come to love.  

As we cross into the final section of the novel, we finally get to see all the pieces come together not just from this book but from the entire trilogy and I have to say it ended with a massive bang. While I didn’t think there were any major twists at the end there were some and one or two left me completely speechless. Honestly, Barnes is an amazing author and I am going to continue read anything she puts out but I am scared that nothing in her backlist will top the utter perfection that is the Inheritance Games and if you haven’t picked it up yet I highly recommend it. It has some of the best character development in a realistic setting I have ever seen, the characters are flawed, broken and utterly human to the very end. The setting is rich and lush without feeling stale as we same in the same place for the majority of the trilogy and the feeling of the entire series being one large puzzle was pulled of with mastery and I can’t wait to read more from Barnes in the future.

About the Author:

Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a “practice book” and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen.

Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She’ll be spending the 2006-2007 school year abroad, doing autism research at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Author Links: Website Twitter Instagram Goodreads

Buy it here: Goodreads Barnes & Noble Book Depository Indigo IndieBound


Kindle Edition:                                 

I received this review copy for consideration from TBR and Beyond Tours.

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