Book Review: Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer is the seventh book in a pastiche series of MG/YA novels. Set in Victorian England, Springer creates a new character all her own: Enola (which is the word “alone” spelled backwards), the much younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. And, alone she is, as her mother has abandoned her, her father is deceased, and her two older brothers are off living their own lives. She describes her brother Sherlock as the one and only professional private detective in all of England, while she is the one and only professional perditorian, one who finds things that are lost.

Full disclosure: I was introduced to this series via the Netflix film based upon the first in the series, Enola Holmes and the Missing Marquess. After watching the film in September of 2020, I quickly downloaded the corresponding novel and flew through it. Having read quite a bit of the Sherlock Holmes canon, I was immediately drawn into his world once again, this time with a female protagonist who shares many of Sherlock’s quirks and characteristics.

And, now, thanks to NetGalley and this advance ebook of the seventh installment, I return to Victorian England and meet up once again with Sherlock and Enola. I actually enjoyed this one more than the first; perhaps the first fell victim to my breaking one of my hard and fast rules: never see the movie before reading the book. I will now finish up the series, reading those in between the two bookends in order.

One thing is certain, however, I am glad to be reading Springer’s work on my Kindle as my finger is perpetually loitering over words unfamiliar to me. As a veteran English teacher and a lifelong avid reader, my vocabulary is pretty solid, but Springer has sprung quite a few new words on me. For example, a barouche is a four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage with the passenger seats hidden from view by a folding top.

Springer has created a unique literary character, a young female in Victorian England who walks into pubs unescorted, drives a horse-drawn carriage—albeit badly, carries a dagger in the bosom of her dress, and more. I found the most recent installment to move at a faster clip than the first, but this is perhaps a result of having seen what Hollywood did prior to reading. A very enjoyable series, which I hope continues past this most recent one. Another movie or two would be fine with me as well, as long as I’ve read the books first!

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