Today I’ll be writing about a series I absolutely love: the Enola Holmes Mystery series by Nancy Springer. I know I have mentioned it to you before, but after re-reading the first installment and because we recently celebrated International Women’s Day, I feel that it’s important to encourage you again to read this not-as-well-known-as-the-Harry-Potter-or-Percy-Jackson-books-but-equally-fabulous series.
There are six books in this historical mystery series, and the first one is titled The Case of the Missing Marquess. Enola (“which, backwards, spells alone“) is the young sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his very proper, older brother Mycroft. The setting is Victorian England, which means that Enola is living in a time period and a society where women are treated as less important and less intelligent than men. (Is that no longer the case, I ask?) Enola’s mother mysteriously disappears on Enola’s fourteenth birthday, and her brothers, whom she has not seen in 10 years, show up and decide to send her off to boarding school (the horror!). But intelligent, emancipated Enola has other plans. Her mother has left her a little book of ciphers and plenty of money, so Enola disguises herself and courageously heads to dangerous London, where she hopes to search for her mother, while hiding from her brothers. Fortunately, Enola’s brothers consistently underestimate her, so she’s able to outsmart them and figure out how to track her mother, while solving the famous kidnapping mystery of Viscount Tewksbury, Marquess of Basilwether (like brother, like sister). The story has a lot of action and suspense, as well as clever and funny situations. Last, but not least, the author’s exceptional use of imagery, dialect, and historical facts make it a convincing and delightful read.
Enola’s adventures continue in the subsequent installments:
The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
The Case of the peculiar Pink Fan
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline
The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye
The plot lines are great, but the best part about the series is Enola’s voice:
It feels very queer to think of one’s mother as a person like oneself, not just a mum, so to speak. Yet there it was: She had been weak as well as strong. She had felt trapped as I did. She had felt the injustice of her situation just as keenly. She had been forced to obey, as I would be forced to obey. She had wanted to rebel, as I desperately yearned to rebel, without knowing how I ever would or could.
But, in the end, she had managed it. Glorious rebelion.
Confound her, why had she not taken me with her?
It’s Enola’s smart, heartfelt, and witty voice — a voice you can identify with — that makes you want to keep reading, not just the first book, but each of the five successive installments. The books never disappoint, and it’s such a treat to read how Sherlock slowly learns to accept his talented little sister as his equal. Enola herself evolves as a person throughout the series, so that, by the end, she has become an independent young woman and a force to be reckoned with.
Read these books, guys. They are awesome.
P.S. See you at The Hunger Games!
A morning without coffee is like sleep. ~Author Unknown