Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books/Wednesday Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: August 31st, 2021
Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads)
After eleven long years, the indomitable Enola Eudoria Heddassa Holmes returns in Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche, and oh my goodness, what a glorious, spectacular return it is! Whereas in the previous books the feisty younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft was at odds with her brothers, in this go around the fifteen-year-old and Sherlock team up to solve this latest mystery. If you haven’t read the previous six books, never fear, Sherlock’s prologue sums everything up quite succinctly. As for longtime fans of the series, you will be happy to see that Enola continues to grow both as a person and as a detective who, if this series continues, may just wind up outshining her older brothers. While she still is inclined toward getting herself into trouble due to her impulsive nature, she manages to outdo Sherlock more than once, and you can see that future promise there.
Nancy Springer brings 1889 London and Surrey vividly to life with the prose, clothing, settings, and social norms, all which seemed to me quite accurate. There are also some darker, disturbing scenes involving the mental institutions of the period and how easy it was to have women locked up on the most absurd of pretexts. There aren’t many twists to this mystery, but that doesn’t matter because the story and characters are so entertaining. Further livening up the plot are the numerous instances of humor which more than once had me chuckling out loud. The ending sums everything up perfectly and Sherlock’s epilogue leaves the door open for an eighth entry.
While Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche, like the previous books in this series is technically written for tweens and young teens, if you’re an adult who loves rollicking, well-written historical mysteries with strong female characters, witty banter, and fast, entertaining plots, I honestly can’t sing this book’s praises highly enough! While I thoroughly enjoyed the Netflix adaptation of Enola Holmes, and I’m looking forward to the sequel, I hope Springer’s upcoming book heralds a continuation of this brilliant series.