YA Weekend: Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult
Series: Book 7 of Enola Holmes
Publisher: Wednesday Books (August 31, 2021)
Length: 261 pages
Like so many others, I discovered Enola Holmes as a Netflix movie before finding out about the series of books it was based on—a series that has been around since 2006, no less. Now more than a decade after the last book, Nancy Springer has returned with Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche, which is the seventh installment though it can be read as a standalone. In fact, Enola’s famous older brother Sherlock gives a rather thorough recap in the prologue, covering her adventures in mystery solving from the previous six books, allowing seamless access into this one.
Following this brief but detailed recap, we jump right into the meat of the story. At fifteen, our protagonist is already living on her own in London, visiting 221B Baker Street after Watson informs her that Sherlock hasn’t been himself as of late. But while Enola is there attending to her brother, a young woman named Tish shows up seeking the detective to consult on a difficult case. An Earl had recently become smitten with Tish’s twin sister Flossie, and the two married despite her being far beneath his station. Now a letter has come from the nobleman informing Tish that Flossie had died from a sudden illness, one that was so severe that the body had to be cremated almost immediately out of an abundance of caution.
Because of the vagueness and curt tone of the note though, Tish has reason to suspect that the Earl may not be telling the truth. Growing up, she and her twin were also very close, and if Flossie had truly died, Tish insists that she would have felt the death in her gut. Instead, her instincts tell her that there is more to the letter, and despite the urn that came along with it ostensibly containing Flossie’s ashes, Enola agrees. So, with Sherlock still being in a funk and feeling indisposed, she decides to step up and help the bereaved young woman.
What follows next is a delightful mix of humor and sleuthing action as Enola does what she does best, utilizing multiple disguises to travel to different places, questioning witnesses and gathering evidence. A clever, resourceful, and confident young lady, she is just such a joy to read about! Even when caught in sticky situations, she powers through the awkwardness with courage and determination, and usually still comes out on top with helpful information towards the case.
And of course, watching Enola carry out her investigations also lights a fire under Sherlock. Newly motivated, he comes up with his own ways to help Tish and his sister, and though his attitude is very different from Enola’s, their two investigative styles complement each other well. While the two are polar opposites in temperament with many years separating them, there’s clear affection between the siblings which was heartwarming to see, even if they do get on each other’s nerves sometimes.
The writing was also accessible and fast-paced, perfected suited for the young adult or higher middle grade audience these books were meant for, though I think adults will also enjoy this immensely. I know I did. Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche was a quick read that I would absolutely recommend to fans of engaging historical mysteries or Sherlock Holmes-type stories with a twist. Our witty and fearless protagonist is almost guaranteed to steal some hearts and bring about a few smiles, and I can’t wait to read more, either the previous books or future installments if we’re fortunate!