A decade after the publication of her last Enola Holmes mystery, Nancy Springer returns with a new tale of subterfuge, intrigue and danger as the young sleuth takes on the case of a missing woman.
Now 15 years old and living independently in London, Enola receives a letter from Dr. John Watson summoning her to 221B Baker Street in the hopes that she might rouse her older brother, the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes, from a depressive state. While Enola is tending to Sherlock, Letitia Glover comes by to call upon the famous detective to find her missing twin sister, Felicity. Felicity’s husband, the powerful Earl of Dunhench, claims (without evidence) that Felicity has died.
With Sherlock seemingly out of commission and smelling a rat herself, Enola vows to locate Felicity. She disguises herself as an aristocrat and drops in on the menacing earl—a dangerous move that even the clever Enola soon regrets. Runaway horses, narrow escapes, close calls and cryptic works of art enliven a well-paced if sometimes predictable mystery.
Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche never hesitates to critique the abuses of classism and sexism endemic to 19th-century English culture, when it wasn’t unheard of for powerful men to dispose of inconvenient women through duplicity. At its core, however, the novel is an homage to the power of sibling relationships. Despite Sherlock’s initial melancholia, he rallies to protect Enola (even if she has already successfully managed to save herself unassisted), just as Letitia risks her life to save her sister.
Readers whose only familiarity with Enola is via the recent Netflix movie starring Millie Bobby Brown (of “Stranger Things” fame) will slip easily into this new story, as all necessary context is provided in the form of a jaunty prologue narrated by the delightfully arrogant Sherlock. From there, Enola takes over the narration. Her confidence, self-assured schemes, intellectual wit and SAT-level vocabulary are enchanting and guaranteed to make readers ponder which Holmes is the superior detective.
Stylishly written and briskly plotted, Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche will scoop up movie fans looking for further adventures with Enola. Best of all, there are six previous Enola Holmes mysteries waiting when they finish this one.