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BOOK REVIEWS, Middle Grade Readers, Mystery/Adventure

Enola Holmes: younger sister to Sherlock

I have discovered a detective character in children’s literature who I find extremely intriguing!  Her name is Enola Holmes.  She is the younger sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.  She lives in London, England in the late 1800’s and resides in the mysteries written by NANCY SPRINGER.

The first in the series is THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS.  In this inaugural installment we meet Enola on her 14th birthday.  We later discover that this is the day her mother has chosen to abandon her home and her daughter, feeling she has left Enola with enough resources to do very well on her own.

When it is finally determined that Enola’s mother is missing, her older brothers Sherlock and Mycroft are summoned to the home.  They are appalled to find their sister uneducated in what they believe to be the appropriate skills for a lady of the late 19th century.  Their intention is to install her in a boarding school to learn these very skills.  Before they can complete their plan Enola escapes, unwilling to give up the freedom her mother has raised her to treasure and protect.

Unsure exactly what to do, Enola ends up embroiled in a missing person case when she is kidnapped along with another young man.  She manages to escape with her fellow prisoner and to solve the crime and bring the kidnapper to justice without revealing herself to her brothers.

The second book is THE CASE OF THE LEFT-HANDED LADY.  This installment finds Enola having established a new identity as well as having realized her desire is to become a professional “perditorian”–one who finds that which is lost.  Through this false identity she becomes involved in the missing person case of Lady Cecily.

As she navigates the clues of this new mystery Enola comes perilously close to revealing herself to her brother Sherlock and losing her freedom. Enola (whoes name spelled backward is ‘alone’) reveals herself in this story as a young girl who is alone and lonely.  Yet she finds herself unwilling to give up her freedom in exchange for friendship or affection.

THE CASE OF THE BIZARRE BOUQUETS is her third foray into the world of mystery and suspense. At the opening of the book we see Sherlock Holmes’ good friend, Dr. Watson, in a horrible predicament.  We later learn that Dr. Watson has gone missing.  Enola, having become acquainted with Dr. Watson in her earlier adventures has a great fondness for him.  She feels she must try to find him.

Enola’s disguises, her boldness of idea and action, as well as her intellectual powess with ciphers and codes, as well as logic make her an interesting, thoroughly engaging character.  I am not the type of reader who consciously tries to figure out a mystery when I am reading; I prefer to let the author guide me to clues and discoveries along with the characters.  There are many who do like to “solve” the crime before the main character:  match wits, so to speak.  This story is a good fit for either type of reader.  I think it IS solveable by the reader, and it is just as fun to follow the process with Enola.

The book offers opportunities to the reader to solve Enola’s coded message toward the end, a sort of exciting challenge to the reader.

These books are an excellent fit for any reader who enjoys the Holmes-esque type of mystery.  Due to accurate description and references, the content is appropriate for middle grade readers and above.  I would recommend 5th grade and up, although it always depends on the individual reader.

I find Enola to be smart and exciting and one of my new favorites in mystery fiction.


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