Enola Holmes and the Mark of the Mongoose
August 6, 2023

Book Review

Enola Holmes and the Mark of the Mongoose

reviewed by Pam Guynn

Enola Holmes and the Mark of the Mongoose by Nancy Springer brings together Sherlock Holmes and his much younger sister Enola in a teen / young adult historical mystery set in London in May of 1890. One of the things that makes this even better is the way the author brings together fictional characters with real people who were in London at the time.

Enola is living on her own at the Professional Women’s Club, has a history of sleuthing, attends classes, and occasionally pursues her chosen profession as a finder of lost things and people. She’s also no longer hiding from her older brothers Sherlock and Mycroft. Wolcott Balestier, a representative of an American book publisher is in London to contract with English authors for their latest worlds. When he disappears, Rudyard Kipling shows up at Enola’s office. However, he refuses to hire her to find Wolcott and hires Sherlock instead. Enola is intrigued by the case and unwilling to accept her dismissal. Instead, she is determined to learn what happened and find Wolcott.

Enola is a likeable character; she’s is 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. Dr. Watson, Caroline Balestier, Florence Nightingale, and Dr. Joseph Lister play roles in the story 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 as well as the city streets. However, I felt there was a little too much time spent on clothing descriptions. The atmosphere felt right for the times resulting in a strong sense of time and place. While the mystery is not overly complicated, it is entertaining and thought-provoking. The plot is full of chasing down leads and interviewing people as well as plenty of danger for Enola. Additionally, amidst the tension, danger, and suspense, there are bits of humor that lighten the tone of the story. The ending wrapped things up nicely.

Overall, this book was an engaging and atmospheric young adult historical mystery that moved at a quick pace. Themes include treatment of women in the late 1800’s, class differences, clothing, disguises, friendship, injustices, sibling relationships, and much more. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Those who enjoy the genre will likely be entertained by this series.

St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books and Nancy Springer provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for September 05, 2023.


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