Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche

Wednesday Bks. Aug. 2021. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250822956.
Gr 6 Up–In 1889, 15-year-old Enola Holmes has reached a détente with her much older brothers, having amply proven that she can outwit them both and take care of herself. So when Tish Glover seeks to consult an indisposed Sherlock, Enola offers her services instead. Tish’s identical twin, Flossie, has been reported dead by her aristocratic husband, but Tish refuses to believe it; rumors hint that the Earl of Dunhench’s first wife, also reported dead, was actually taken away in a “black barouche.” Not knowing what that means, Enola decides to investigate by going to Dunhench herself. Soon she, her aristocratic friend Tewky (Viscount Tewkesbury), Sherlock, Tish, and Dr. Watson all become involved in a harrowing adventure to expose the truth behind the black barouche—and Flossie’s disappearance. Springer’s historical worldbuilding is exemplary. Evocative sensory descriptions paint vivid pictures of Enola’s England, from the Earl’s elegant manor to Bedlam’s abject misery, and character interactions reflect Victorian treatment of women. Echoing Conan Doyle’s prose style, the author’s dry wit and sophisticated vocabulary (“scagliola,” “crepuscular,” “erinyes”) will delight some readers, but may confound others. Moving at a speedy pace, the story offers more adventure than mystery, since Enola discovers the truth in the first half of the book. Although characters are distinctive, the adventurous and fashion-loving Enola has the most depth. Characters’ ethnicities are generally not described.
VERDICT Hand Enola’s lively new adventure to fans of Sherlock Holmes, historical fiction, or Netflix’s Enola Holmes.

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