Who’s ready for a brand new story arc in the Enola Holmes universe? As we swiftly discover in the opening pages of this latest installment of the series, Enola has reconciled with her brothers and is living as an independent Consulting Perditologist in London. However, she’s dismayed that her brothers, famous old Sherlock and Mycroft, are all too happy to continue in their prior indifference to family relations. When Dr John Watson comes calling, asking a favor of her in regards to Sherlock’s welfare, she’s more than happy to oblige.
As she’s attempting to twit and cajole Sherlock out of another one of his dark humors, who should come along to 221B Baker Street but a client in need of assistance! Miss Leticia Glover has just received a rather peremptory letter informing her that her twin sister is dead and, shockingly for the time and place, cremated. Tish, as she’s known, insists that if her sister Flossie were dead that she would somehow feel the loss of their bond. Enola is immediately intrigued, with Sherlock also drawn in to assist once he hears Tish’s plea in greater detail.
Apparently, Flossie had been a beauteous young governess who drew the eye of the widowed Lord Dunhench several years hence. Once the Holmes ascertain that His Lordship’s first wife also died abruptly and was subsequently cremated — and that the urn of ashes sent to Tish as the remains of her dear sister do not, as a matter of fact, contain what was advertised — the game, as Sherlock would say, is afoot.
One of the most fun parts of Enola Holmes And The Black Barouche is in contrasting the ways Enola and Sherlock go about investigating. While Sherlock undertakes the humble disguises and solitary rambles that have been his wont since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon, Enola is both far more audacious and sociable. Having discovered her love of fashion, she’s more than happy to disguise herself as a number of modish young women making their ways in the world. It’s also lovely to see her make the reacquaintance of her dear old friend Tewky, he of The Case Of The Missing Marquess, and recruit him to her cause.
As always, Nancy Springer incorporates real-world historical injustices into her fictional capers, giving readers of all ages real food for thought as to how society has evolved from where it used to be. Her works also serve as a cautionary tale on how bad things can get if women and nonbinary people neglect to vigilantly protect our freedoms. These wonderfully feminist middle grade novels serve the perfect blend of mystery and adventure with social conscience, and should be on the bookshelf of any young reader with an inquisitive mind.
One note: if you don’t want to be spoiled for the first six books, do skip over the prologue. Charmingly written as it is, it also details quite a bit more from the prior novels than is usual in most mystery series. You’ll definitely be caught up with the plot to date, however!
The Frumious Consortium is proud to be part of the official blog tour for this novel.
Enola Holmes And The Black Barouche by Nancy Springer was published August 31 2021 by Wednesday Books and is available from all good booksellers, including