Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess – Enola Holmes #1 – Nancy Springer – Philomel Books – Published 2006
When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her. But nothing can prepare her for what awaits. Because when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, fleeing murderous villains, and trying to elude her shrewd older brothers–all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother’s strange disappearance. Amid all the mayhem, will Enola be able to decode the necessary clues and find her mother?
With the announcement of the Enola Holmes movie, we decided to read the first book in the Enola Holmes series, The Case of the Missing Marquess in our Year 6 book club. Unsurprisingly, the book is much better than the movie (even considering Henry Cavill – sorry Henry). The book is full of fun disguises and clever ways that Enola learns to consider her environment, to move around undetected and to start living on her own terms.
When Enola’s mother disappears and doesn’t return, Enola is forced to inform her two older brothers – Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. Surprised at the state of the estate and Enola herself, Mycroft decides that Enola will be sent to boarding school. Enola has other ideas and escapes, heading to London to search for her mother. But along the way, she is intrigued by the case of another “missing” person and she decides to investigate.
Despite being written in this century, the writing has an old-style feeling, and draws heavily on period language. This was a great discussion point for out book club. The book also draws attention to many of the inequities of the time.
Enola is a strong, young character. She is intelligent and independent, but she is not without fear or mistakes, which makes her a relatable character to young readers. Many people around her, including her brothers, make references to female capacity and intelligence. These references made for an excellent discussion point with our readers about what it was like living during that time period as a girl and the differences between then and now. Enola is of course very intelligent and proves all their beliefs wrong.
Ciphers, disguises, clues, multiple mysteries, and nefarious villains and brothers alike to evade, The Case of the Missing Marquess is a thrilling mystery adventure and just the start of an intriguing series.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Middle grade fiction
Themes: Ciphers, missing persons, adventure, disguises
Reading age guide: Ages 8 and up.
Advisory: References to prostitution and “ladies of the night” without any details to what this entails, references to extreme poverty. Violence, kidnapping.
Published: 2006. Movie tie-in 2020.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 240 pages.