Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.
The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!
Thank you to Carla for recommending this series to me.
Enola Holmes is the seventh story in Nancy Springer’s series of Middle Grade mysteries featuring Sherlock’s younger sister. If you haven’t read the previous titles in the series, don’t worry: a) it can be easily read as a standalone b) we get a prologue from Sherlock with a hilarious recap of Enola’s previous adventures. We also learn that fifteen-year-old Enola is a very independent and resourceful young lady who lodges at Professional Women’s Club in London.
When Dr Watson writes to her and asks her to help with one of Sherlock’s famous bouts of melancholia, she immediately hurries to Baker Street. While she is there, trying to get any kind of reaction from her depressed brother, a desperate potential client arrives. Miss Letitia Glover, a young professional woman (a typist) desperately needs Sherlock’s detective expertise to help her locate her twin sister Felicity. Felicity’s rich husband, the Earl of Dunhench, sent Tish a note informing her that her sister unexpectedly fell ill and passed away and has been already cremated (a practice most victorians were suspicious of). Nevertheless, Tish is convinced that Felicity is still alive. While Enola is immediately moved by her pleas, Sherlock’s interest is only piqued when it turns out that the ashes aren’t human.
Enola is a delightful character. She is smart, determined, witty, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s also extremely enterprising and brave. This is a historical mystery, so all of her adventures are set against the background of the Victorian society. The book is rich in detail – from changing fashions, food, transportation, homes and institutions to typical attitudes that that will seem strange and often unfair to a modern reader.
It was great to see how Enola and Sherlock worked on the case, approaching it in similar ways-they both collected information, using various disguises, looked at the evidence, detected forged documents and even set up a trap for the culprit.
The writing was very engaging, easy to follow and fun to read. I would definitely recommend it not just to MG/YA audience, but anyone who likes mysteries with a strong, independent female lead.
Thank you to NetGalley and St.Martin’sPress/Wednesday Books for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.