History, Mystery, and Adventure
I reviewed the first book of the Enola Holmes series several weeks ago. I thoroughly enjoyed that book, but now that I’ve read all six in the series I’m a fan for life. I think it’s a little cliche, but I’m gonna say it anyway, “What a breath of fresh air!” Even the junior fiction novels (and I’ve heard the children’s books as well) have messier plot lines including LGBTQ and other homosexual issues, divorced or separated parents, rebellious children and teenagers, and higher maturity level topics in a younger audience.
Now, I will say this book series isn’t perfect. We have quite the rebellious teenager on our hands here, and we will get to that in a moment. But in the overall scheme of things, if I had a 10-12 year old child that wanted to read a series without me questioning every bit of content this would be my go-to, right here.
For junior fiction, this novel combines some interesting topics. Of course, being the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, Enola Holmes dabbles in mysteries (specifically those of missing persons.) With that, we get a look at 19th century London and the surrounding countryside that is rich, fascinating, and educational. The customs for women at the time specifically are brought up often in stark contrast to what we are used to in the 21st century. On top of some good historical education and mysteries, Nancy Springer gives us some solid adventures and exciting plot twists in this series.
Books in the Series:
- The Case of the Missing Marquess (240 pages)
- The Case of the Left-Handed Lady (256 pages)
- The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets (192 pages)
- The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (192 pages)
- The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline (176 pages)
- The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye (192 pages)
- COMING SOON – Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche
Page Count Total: 1,248
Published: 2006-2011 (and now 2021)
Age Range: 10-12 y/o
Series Rating: * * * * * (5.0)
You’ll Just Need to Read It
The long and short of it is go read these books! I know I have it listed as 10-12 year old age group, and with a female lead the male audience may prefer the original Sherlock mysteries, but truly anyone could enjoy these. They are quick reads with fun characters, good suspense, and well-written dialogue and backstory.
If you keep tabs on my blog you will remember that I wrote a review for a tome written about the French Revolution called Citizens. That author did not understand the beauty, complexity, and maturity that is found in writing shorter books and it was his downfall. Does anyone care about his book? No. Does anyone even know his name? No, of course not. I don’t even remember his name and I read some of the book! But Nancy Springer? She artistically weaves a continuous story-line through six (soon to be seven) books while developing individual mysteries within each novel and creating new characters all along the way. And she does this in less than 250 pages in every single book. That my dear readers is how you find the greatest writers. Anyone can write nonsense for 800 pages (okay, maybe not quite . . .), but only the truly dedicated craftsmen of language can manage to shorten themselves and get the same point across without loosing elements of their story.
If you read one (or all) of these books you will see what I mean. Springer expertly crafts the story arch to rise, climax, fall, and conclude in each book so accurately and perfectly pins down the timing of it all. Never does the reader feel rushed or left-behind, yet they will not ever feel lost, bogged down, or stalled either. This is the mark of a great writer.
Now, for the “problematic” content. I don’t know that we can even call it that. Enola is a feisty, independent young woman who hates boarding school (what is wrong with the British?!) She spends all six books avoiding having to be taken to such an establishment and we see throughout the books valid reasons why she shouldn’t go (health and wellness, emotional well-being, lack of true education in the important subjects, etc.) Ordinarily, the way she goes about this would be impossible, but in 19th century London it could technically have happened.
Due to her location at times, we sometimes hear mention of “ladies of the night” and some characters are kidnapped for supposedly nefarious reasons, though most of the time these reasons are not explained in detail. Enola occasionally mentions having whispered a “naughty word” but there isn’t any actual language included in the books. There is death and crime of course, as this is a mystery series, which might scare some young readers.
On the whole, this is a very clean, well-written, and engaging series that will delight just about any reader who comes across it. Also, you just have to love Sherlock in this series. Springer wrote him in so well and I greatly enjoyed getting to know his character and watching the relationship between Sherlock and Enola bloom. I highly recommend this series and will be eagerly awaiting the release of book seven come August 2021 to get the scoop on Enola’s next adventure.
Until the next exploration of London! 🙂
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