- Title: Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche (Enola Holmes #7)
- Author: Nancy Springer
- Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
- Where to buy: Macmillan, Amazon (affiliate link)
- Would I recommend: Yes! Enola Holmes is a delight.
ENOLA HOLMES AND THE BLACK BAROUCHE by Nancy Springer
On sale: August 31st, 2021
“A young girl who is empowered, capable, and smart…the Enola Holmes book series convey an impactful message that you can do anything if you set your mind to it, and it does so in an exciting and adventurous way.”–Millie Bobby Brown
Enola Holmes is back! Nancy Springer’s nationally bestselling series and breakout Netflix sensation returns to beguile readers young and old in Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche.
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!
Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.
“Is she fainted?”
Indignant, I wanted to sit up and say I was not so easily killed and I never fainted, but to my surprise my body would not obey me. I merely stirred and murmured.
I saw the clodhopper boots of common men surrounding me and smelled alcohol on the breath of those leaning over me.
“Let’s get ’er inside.”
“Somebody go fer the doctor.”
Strong hands, not ungentle, seized me by the feet and shoulders. I could have kicked and yelled—I felt strong enough now—but my mind had started to function, realizing that I was about to be carried into a pub, for only in a public house, or pub, would workmen be drinking in the daytime. And normally no woman of good repute would enter a pub, or if she did, she would be jeered at until she retreated. But, my avid brain realized, fate in the form of Jezebel had given me opportunity to spend some time inside a pub—no, in the pub, most likely the only pub in Threefinches! So I closed my eyes and pretended to be rather more helpless than I was as the men hauled me inside and laid me down on a high-backed bench by the hearth.
Someone brought something pungent in lieu of smelling salts, but I shook my head, pushed the malodourous hand away, opened my eyes, and sat up, acting as if it were a great effort for me to do so. A burly, bearded man in an apron, undoubtedly the publican who kept the place, came running with a pillow for my back, and I thanked him with a gracious smile.
“Will ye have a nip of brandy, lydy?”
“No, thank you. Water, please.”
“Jack! Water for the lydy!” he bellowed to some underling, and he remained nearby as I managed, with hands that genuinely trembled, to remove my gloves. Their thin kidskin leather was ruined by the mauling it had taken from Jezebel’s reins, and my hands were red and sore; doubtless they would bruise. Grateful for the cool glass, I held it in both hands and sipped, looking around me. Half of the denizens of the place, like the owner, stood in a semicircle staring at me not unpleasantly, while the rest did the same from seats at the rustic tables—all but one. A tall man with beard stubble on his chin and quite a shock of coarse brownish-grey hair hiding his forehead had withdrawn to a table by the wall, where he devoted his attention to his mug of ale, or stout, or whatever noxious brew he might fancy. I said brightly to the tavern-keeper, “I believe I would like to stand up.”
“Now, why not wait for the doctor, lydy—”
But taking hold of his arm, as he stood within my reach, I got to my feet with reasonable steadiness. There were muted cheers from the onlookers. Nodding and simpering at the men all around me, I lilted, “Thank you so much. Do you suppose anyone could go out and fetch my bag, and my hat and parasol? I believe they fell along the—”
Already half a dozen would-be heroes were stampeding towards the door. Yet, if I had walked in here under my own power, any request for help would have been met with deepest suspicion. Such is life: odd.
This is the seventh in Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes series, but the first that I’ve read. I watched and enjoyed the Netflix show before I even knew there were Enola Holmes books, so I was delighted at the chance to take part in the blog tour for this one. This book reads just fine as a stand-alone – there’s enough of an intro at the beginning to give you a sense of the backstory, and I didn’t feel like I’d missed out on anything vital to a proper understanding of this story.
Enola is a headstrong, independent delight of a protagonist, and often a trial to her older brother Sherlock (in no small part because she seems to often be one step ahead of him!). She shares his investigative mindset, and when Miss Letitia Glover comes to ask for Sherlock’s assistance in finding out what has happened to her twin sister Felicity, it is Enola who springs to her aid.
Felicity was married to the Earl of Dunhench. Letitia has been informed, apparently after the fact, that her sister has died unexpectedly and that her body has already been cremated. As cremation wasn’t the usual practice in Victorian times, Letitia feels that something doesn’t ring true. She also feels certain that she would know if her twin were dead. When Enola learns that the Earl’s previous wife also allegedly died suddenly and was also cremated, nothing will do but that she go to the Earl’s estate, undercover, to try to find out what really happened and what the arrival of a mysterious black barouche had to do with Felicity’s disappearance.
As she unravels the clues, Enola proves herself quite capable at a number of things – quick thinking, disguise, surviving what appear to be most dire circumstances. She doesn’t let the constraints that society places on women keep her from doing what she feels needs to be done. When Enola asks for her assistance in unveiling the truth of what happened to Felicity, Letitia also shows herself willing to move beyond societal expectations in order to make things right. They were both wonderfully written.
The mystery wasn’t incredibly complicated, but that doesn’t make it any less of an engaging read. The historical details, the setting, the characters both good and bad, the dialogue – all combine to form a literary treat.
Now I’ve got to go read the rest of the series.
Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy of this book from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press – Wednesday Books. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books that I don’t actually like.
NANCY SPRINGER is the author of the nationally bestselling Enola Holmes novels, including The Case of the Missing Marquess, which was made into the hit Netflix movie, Enola Holmes. She is the author of more than 50 other books for children and adults. She has won many awards, including two Edgar Awards, and has been published in more than thirty countries. She lives in Florida.