ARC Review: Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether! 

I actually never read the previous books in this series but had fun watching the movie. So when I got the email if I was interested in this book, I immediately took the chance. And this turned out to be fun.

If you checkout my earliest posts on this blog a few years ago, you’ll know that I’m a huge Sherlock fan. So even if this is the story of his sister, just having him tangentially in the story is enough of a draw for me. Firstly, I have to appreciate the author for giving a good recap of everything that’s happened before, I so wish all authors would do that for their sequels. And this was such a quick read – I finished it in just a couple of hours and was quite entertained throughout, though I have to say that I found some of the vocabulary tough to follow. But that’s probably because I don’t read a lot of historical fiction.

The mystery was interesting but a tad bit predictable – it wasn’t at all hard to guess what had happened to the missing young woman. But I think it was the characters who made up for any shortcomings in the plot. Enola is a fun, eccentric and impulsive young girl who is way too different and independent for her times. But she didn’t lack courage or creative ideas on how to solve the questions troubling her. I thought she got great company in Tish who was quite ready to go along with these crazy ideas, if only to save her sister. It was nice to see some female bonding. Sherlock seemed like a reluctant participant in his sister’s activities, but he can never let a mystery go unsolved and I loved how supportive he was of the girl’s plans.

To conclude, I’m glad I got to read this book. It probably fills a hole in my heart left by all the Sherlock books I’ve read many many times. However, it wasn’t too special and I think my enjoyment was very much related to the nostalgia factor. But I probably will continue the series because why not.

PS: Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here unbiased and solely mine.

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