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Review: ‘An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Missing Marquess’

Enola Holmes Cover

An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Missing Marquess
By Serena Blasco, based on the novel by Nancy Springer
IDW Publishing, $14.99

From 2006-2010, Nancy Springer wrote six YA mysteries about Enola Holmes, the younger sister of Sherlock. This graphic novel from IDW’s EuroComics imprint adapts the first.

Enola has been living with her mother, Lady Eudora, in the country. On her 14th birthday, her mother disappears. Upon notifying her much older brothers Mycroft and Sherlock, who haven’t visited for ten years, she’s told she will be sent to boarding school to become a proper young lady. Instead, she runs away to London in disguise, aided by her mother’s coded messages and the language of flowers.

The floral theme is reflected in the text, with Mycroft’s school choices described as turning girls into “houseplants” and Mycroft bemoaning Enola’s plans to “vegetate” in the country (almost a character on its own) by herself. Enola’s cleverness is wonderful to read, with her turning particular feminine aspects—the flowers, a restrictive corset, the expectation that she’ll do as she’s told—into the tools of her escape.

She’s unlike her more famous brothers in other ways. She finds missing people by listening to those around her, often those ignored by the authorities, instead of making a big deal out of her own smarts. As she thinks to herself, “I had learned the subtle and discrete rebellion of women and their cryptic messages. A world entirely unknown to Sherlock’s ‘logical’ mind. I could go places and accomplish things he could never imagine, much less do.”

With only 56 pages of story in this oversized hardcover, events happen rather quickly, without much space for emotional reflection, but the action will keep readers interested. The panel contents are lovely, done as painted watercolors and with plenty of key moments well-captured. The faces are exaggerated in shape for distinctiveness and emotion, and the pages are packed with plenty of panels for events and realizations.

The underlying theme, of Enola’s mother having to trick her sons so that she can live independently, is unfortunately still relevant. Mycroft comes across as particularly old-fashioned in not understanding why his mother would want to control her own destiny. Enola wonders why she was left behind, but it doesn’t bother her as she sets out to find her own abilities and beat brother Sherlock to the punch.

We have previously posted a preview of this book. The second volume, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, has been announced for June 2019.

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Johanna About Johanna

Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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