Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche

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Book Review

Enola Holmes, Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister, is called in to help ease the famous detective out of a depressive funk. And the only solution she can come up with is to steal away one of his cases involving a twin sister who’s caught up in a deadly mystery.

Plot Summary

“Flossie simply cannot be gone from this world,” Miss Letitia Glover declares, her eyes wet with emotion. “I would have instantly sensed my loss had she passed away.”

Enola Holmes, Sherlock Holmes’ young, quick-witted sister, nods and soon after promises to help with this woman’s case. The problem is, it isn’t exactly her case to help with. The woman had come to talk with Enola’s brother, the eminent detective.

Enola, you see, had been called to Sherlock’s apartment as part of an urgent request from his detecting partner, Dr. John Watson. Sherlock was in one of his depressive funks, a state he regularly finds himself in after a strenuous bout of thought and deduction. And once he enters into that state, it’s often very hard to bring him back to any semblance of normalcy.

Enola reasoned, however, that stealing away a case just might get the brilliant man to rise, shave and dress himself properly. And she was quite correct.

Now she and Sherlock are attentively listening to the particulars of Miss Glover’s case. They are approximately as follows:

  • Miss Glover has a twin sister named Felicity (or Flossie, to those she holds dear).
  • Flossie married, as quite a shock to her lower-class family, the Earl of Dunhench, a man known to have an eye for beautiful women.
  • Miss Glover just received a strangely short missive stating that Flossie had died unexpectedly and was quickly cremated without a funereal.
  • The ashes were sent with the note.
  • And Miss Glover has been unable to find out anything more from the close-mouthed Earl.
  • But one thing Miss Letitia Glover is convinced of is that her twin—connected to her by that odd emotional linkage that twins often have—is most certainly not

This time Enola and Sherlock are nodding in unison as well. And after Sherlock examines the ashes under a microscope, determining that they couldn’t possibly be those of a young woman (unless she was covered in brown fur and walked on all fours), he promises to look into the case. “We’ll do it together!” Enola makes plain to both Miss Glover and her brother.

In fact, Enola already has ideas for the part she’ll play and the disguise she’ll use to uncover further clues. Her brilliant brother might indeed be the best and most insightful male detective the world has ever known. But women can be insightful and capable, too.

And Enola Holmes is determined to show that she is the most capable of the lot!

Christian Beliefs

Letitia makes reference to the biblical story of “someone” having their feet washed with a woman’s hair.

Other Belief Systems

None

Authority Roles

Sherlock Holmes is somewhat ill tempered and locked away in a dark room when Enola first arrives. She has a very difficult time breaking through his angry crust. And even after pulling himself out of his funk, Sherlock has very little desire to work the case with his sister. But after Enola makes it clear that they will work together for Miss Glover—a woman whom Enola has already formed a bond with—Sherlock loosens up.

Sherlock treats Enola with respect and talks with her as an equal, even being impressed with her inventiveness at some junctures. And though he notes early on that Enola “did not need protection,” he does keep a protective eye on her.

Almost all of the other adults and authorities in the equation are relatively kind and attentive but for Lord Cadgan Burr Radcliff II, the Earl and husband in the case. This man can appear mannered and nice in public, but we learn that he is a womanizing lout who mistreated two different women he was married to.

Letitia and her sister Felicity are incredibly close. And Letitia puts her life on the line to find her missing sis.

Profanity & Violence

There’s a reference to a group of people “screeching profanities,” but none are spelled out. Someone does cry out, “your mission be d–ned!” at one point.

We’re told that Enola once cut up a murderous villain with a dagger. She reaches for that dagger at one point and holds it to someone’s throat. Several footmen grab Enola at their employer’s command, then drag her to a bedroom and lock her in. A coachman is thumped with a full-body blow into a rose bush.

There are several cases of people being thumped and bumped around because of a hard-to-control horse.

Sexual Content

It’s implied that the Earl has had his way with a number of women and that he married his first wife because he had “gotten her in trouble.”

Discussion Topics

What did you think of the book’s mystery? Did you feel like you were piecing together the clues with Enola and her brother Sherlock?

The story definitely points to some of the ways that women were very disadvantaged in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Were you aware that society was slanted so unfairly? What does that tell you about Enola’s character? How does it make you feel about the changes that have happened since?

What did you think about the devotion Miss Glover felt for her sister? Do you feel that way with your siblings? Are there ways you can show a brother or sister how important they are to you, or ways that you can strengthen your relationship? Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and see if there are any helpful thoughts in there.

What’s your favorite part of this story?

Get free discussion question for books at focusonthefamily.com/magazine/thriving-family-book-discussion-questions.

Additional Comments

With the advent of the Enola Holmes Netflix movie, several other Enola Holmes book entries and the well-known history of the great detective Sherlock himself, this book will likely attract the attention of young mystery readers. And well it should. Author Nancy Springer maintains Sherlock Holmes’ Victorian era and creates a suitable mystery of twists and turns that works nicely. And the whip-smart Enola is an enjoyable action/adventure heroine. The book speaks of the bonds and devotion between loving family members.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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