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Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche - Review

*I received this e-arc and physical copy from Wednesday Books via NetGalley. All views are my own*

I remember when my mother gave me my first mystery novel to read when I was a child. It was a Nancy Drew book. My world and imagination opened up a new love for the genre. It's been years since I've picked up the series, let alone a mystery novel of that caliber, and I've been looking for that kind of high ever since. I never could get into the Hardy Boys, and the only Sherlock Holmes agency I ever encountered was film adaptions (and we all know those tanked). So I was pleasantly surprised when Netflix did a spinoff on Holmes's little-known sister – Enola Holmes. I liked the movie enough to find out there is a mystery series featuring the young sleuth herself. That led me to find the latest Nancy Springer offering, Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche. Now that I've taken you down the rabbit hole let's get into this review!

"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 and the Black Barouche is the 7th book in the Enola Holmes series. But don't fret, if you're like me, who only just found out about the new detective in town, you're in luck because this book also serves as a standalone! Kudos to Springer for being considerate! I also understand that the previous books were published a decade ago, so more celebratory sprinkles to Springer for picking up where the movie left off!

Enola and the Black Barouche was a good read. It wasn't as suspenseful as I liked it to be, but Enola is such a beloved character that I didn't mind it. She's a free thinker who proved time and time again that no man-led society is going to keep her from doing what she has to do, even if it means hopping on one of Sherlock's cases. And while she has this attitude about her, she is also not stubborn enough to accept help from her brother when it's clearly out of her hands. The sibling interaction is fun to watch.

I really enjoyed the prologue. While it is Enola's story, Sherlock presents the facts and brings the readers to speed with what's happening between him and Enola. The prologue wraps everything nicely before diving into the story for those who haven't read a single Enola Holmes mystery. I appreciated that.

The case wasn't hard to follow and was quite entertaining. It's shocking to learn what women went through in the early 1800s, especially if they were deemed disagreeable. It's unfortunate that the circumstances led to appalling solutions.

Overall the book was okay. It was fast-paced, humorous but also highlighted women's treatment in earlier times. Rating this stumped me, but I had to go with a 3.5-star. I initially rated it 3-stars because I felt this was a Sherlock collaboration rather than an Enola adventure. I understand they're siblings, but for Sherlock to come off as not needing help from people but somewhat relying on Enola and vice-versa doesn't seem like an ENOLA novel. She didn't shine on her own, but she shined in her own right, if that makes sense. What bumped it to a half star is that I'm intrigued enough to want to pick up the next book in the series when it comes out. She's not Nancy, but Enola shall satisfy my appetite for futures to come.

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche debuts August 31, 2021

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