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Book Review: The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery) – Nancy Springer

The first thing that caught my attention here was the cover – I mean LOOK at it! The interplay of red and black, the intricate little details that wait to be discovered…it just suits the story perfectly! And then it is set in Victorian England – my most favourite of all the (literary) eras. And THEN it’s also the story of Sherlock Holmes’ little sister – what could be better than that? So OBVIOUSLY I was sold – I had to read this book. To give you a little summary of what is to come – I thought it was great, I did like it, but not enough to give it the full five stars. Let me tell you why it didn’t fully live up to my expectations:

A little bit about this book…

So this is the story of Enola, little sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. In contrast to them, she leads a lonely and solitary life out in the country with her mother – until one day, her mother goes missing. Being the sister of the most famous detective of all times, Enola takes the case into her own hands, but other than some hidden money and some encrypted hints that lead her nowhere, she’s not getting far on their country manor. Enola decides to go to London and continue her search there, but gets involved in the strange case of a kidnapped marquess (who is even younger than her 14 year old self). Enola has to be smarter than her brothers, smarter than the kidnappers and try to think where her mother could hide – as she is sure no abduction has been taken place in her case. Will Enola become the new detective par excellence..?

What I thought of it…

This is another middle grade book I’ve read lately that I loved; these are nice, quick and easy reads and they still captivate you as an adult reader. (People who say MG books don’t count as reading can leave now, please and thank you. Lol.)

So apparently, Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes see their mother (and little sister) as the somewhat black sheep of the family, they just support them with money but never visit, which becomes clear when Enola sends them a telegraph after her mother’s disappearance, and the two men do not recognize Enola when she picks them up at the station (by bike, in trousers – so not appropriate for a young girl in Victorian England). The last time they had seen her, Enola was a little toddler! So the family story in here is quite troubled, which casts a kind of bad light on the Holmes bothers, but adds an interesting touch to the story as a whole.

I liked Enola’s elaborate descriptions of the clothes she is supposed to wear (but doesn’t like wearing). They give you a good understanding of the implications that came with being a girl in 19th century England, and also what it meant if you deviated from these expectations. It’s such a huge shock to Mycroft and Sherlock to see how Enola is running around that it almost borders on funny – but it is also kind of sad, really. The poor girl is basically left alone not only by her mother, but also by her brothers, who don’t think highly of her either…but that made me like her all the more!

I loved the riddles and hints that Enola’s mother has left her daughter, and I loved that they play such an important part in the story. Even Enola’s name is a kind of riddle in itself (shhhh – read it backwards…). Enola is a great character. She is quite lonely, doesn’t have friends or any family left that looks after her, but she still has a great personality. She is independent, smart, strong and fearless, which I liked a lot. When Mycroft and Sherlock want to put Enola into a boarding school, Enola flees – in order to escape the life her brothers have planned for her, but also in order to find her mother. She is angry with them for caring more for her clothes – and rightfully so. She had contacted them to search for their mother, not to make a lady of her!

On her escape route, Enola comes across the case of another missing person – a young boy – and her Holmes genes come through – she just has to undertake investigations of her own!

To mention a slight downside to the story, the case Enola solves there isn’t really a hard one. BUT, I think this story is rather an introduction to the whole series. It is used to present the main character(s) to us, and to give insight into the implications of being set in Victorian England (especially the way an independent, strong girl is seen as foreign object in this world). However, and this might be a slight SPOILER to some people – the case of Enola’s missing mother is not solved by the end of this book. So one cannot help but wonder how her search will continue, and that’s what makes a good introduction to a series, if you ask me. So to sum up, 4 bookish stars to the new star in the Holmes family!

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