I first listened to the audiobooks of Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes series when my girls were very young. Now that they are older, I thought it would be a good time to introduce them to this delightful series.
The Case of the Missing Marquess is the first book in the Enola Holmes series. As you may have guessed from the surname, Enola is Sherlock and Mycroft’s sister. At fourteen, she is much younger than her brothers, and in fact, has not seen them in over ten years. But when her mother disappears mysteriously, Enola summons them to the Holmes countryside estate. There are very few clues as to where Mrs. Holmes may have gone, and Sherlock and Mycroft determine that the best course of action is for Enola to enroll in a boarding school. She has been raised quite unconventionally, and does not know any of the social graces that she ought to know by the age of fourteen.
Enola objects to this plan, so she runs away. She stumbles, quite unexpectedly into the disappearance of a young marquess. She proves to be quite astute at determining where a young aristocrat might bolt if he grew weary of his pampered life. Things look quite dicey for awhile, but Enola is a fighter, and is much more clever than her brothers could have possibly imagined.
As is the case with many first books in a long series, it is necessary to convey a great deal of background information. This isn’t a problem per se; Enola is a delightful protagonist and she’s full of witty observations. But the downside is that the mystery portion is a bit abbreviated. Enola does have some brilliant deductions about why and where the young Marquess may have absconded, but she is aided by nothing short of Divine Providence.
My girls enjoyed listening to this book as we drove around on various errands. They could empathize with Enola quite a bit, and they found her to be very funny and lively.
I would absolutely recommend The Case of the Missing Marquess, as well as the rest of the Enola Holmes series. The books are rather short; only about 4-5 hours of listening time apiece. I do recommend the audiobook editions if possible; Katherine Kellgren brings the story to life with all sorts of accents for the various characters. I would recommend this book (and the rest of the series) for children in the later years of elementary school. There are children in peril and there are some minor mature content; the possibility of women being reduced to prostitution is mentioned, but without any elucidation as to what that entails. It is, however, an important part of the narrative; having grown up in the countryside, Enola is unaware of how poverty has affected some of the people in London. This discovery shapes her character, and she can later be seen performing charitable acts for the poor. My girls and I are looking forward to listening to the rest of the series in the coming weeks!