Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche
reviewed by Pam Guynn
Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer brings together Sherlock Holmes and his much younger sister Enola in a teen / young adult historical mystery set in London and Surrey in 1889. There are several previous books in this series, but this one worked well as a standalone. Mystery, suspense, and humor are blended in an appealing new case for Enola.
At fifteen, Enola is living on her own at the Professional Women’s Club and has a history of sleuthing. While she is visiting Sherlock a young woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, Felicity. Felicity’s husband of two years sent a note that she had died and needed to be cremated. Letitia believes she would know it if her sister was dead. Enola decides to go undercover to determine what happened to Felicity.
Enola is a likeable character; she’s witty, thoughtful, outgoing, and a master of disguises. But sometimes she is short of facts and that can get her into hot water. How she and Sherlock think and analyze situations is fun to see unfold. Besides Sherlock, Dr. Watson and the Viscount Tewksbury put in appearances as well.
The author does a good job of world-building. I was able to easily visualize the settings, the people, the clothing, and the homes. The atmosphere felt right for the times resulting in a strong sense of time and place. Unraveling the mystery was enjoyable. While the mystery is not overly complicated, it is solid and entertaining. Additionally, amidst the tension and suspense, there are bits of humor that lighten the tone of the story. The ending wrapped things up nicely. While the prologue and epilogue are from Sherlock’s point of view, everything in between is from that of Enola. For those that haven’t read the previous books, the prologue does a great job of bringing readers up to speed.
Overall, this book was an engaging and enjoyable historical mystery that moved at a quick pace. Themes include treatment of women in the late 1800’s, clothing, disguises, friendship, injustices, sibling relationships, and much more. There are some disturbing descriptions of the conditions in some institutions of the times.
I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series. Readers that enjoy young adult historical mysteries will likely enjoy this series. There is a movie out that is based on an earlier book.
St. Martin’s Press – Wednesday Books and Nancy Springer provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for August 31, 2021.