Sunday, August 7, 2011

Enola Two and Three

"Legally, at age fourteen I did not yet exist.  So who on Earth did I think I was-Enola Ivy Holmes Meshle Mrs. Ragostin-to attempt the monstrous hoax that was my life?"
I adore the Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer.  And reading a voice like Enola's who wouldn't? I read the first book The Case of the Missing Marquess about a month ago.  I am even more enamored of the series now having read The Case of the Left Handed Lady and The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
 Enola Holmes is hiding from the world's most famous detective—her own brother, Sherlock Holmes. But when she discovers a hidden cache of bold, brilliant charcoal drawings, she can't help but venture out to find who drew them: young Lady Cecily, who has disappeared from her bedroom without a trace. Braving midnight streets where murderers roam, Enola must unravel the clues—a leaning ladder, a shifty-eyed sales clerk, political pamphlets—but in order to save Lady Cecily from a powerful villain, Enola risks revealing more than she should . . . In her follow-up to The Case of the Missing Marquess, which received four starred reviews, two-time Edgar Award winner Nancy Springer brings us back to the danger and intrigue of Victorian London as she continues the adventures of one of the wittiest and most exciting new heroines in today's literature.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 Everyone knows Dr. Watson is Sherlock Holmes' right-hand man—so when he goes missing, it's a shock. Even Sherlock hasn't, well, the slightest clue as to where he could be. Enola is intrigued, but weary; she's still hiding from her older brothers—and getting involved could be disastrous.   But when a bizarre bouquet shows up at the Watson residence, full of convolvulus, hawthorn, and white poppies, Enola must act. She dons her most discerning disguise yet to find the sender—and quickly, for Enola knows the blossoms symbolize death!   Hold your breath because Enola's about to take it away. The stakes are higher and the mystery deeper than ever before in the third installment of this Edgar-award nominated, critically acclaimed series.
Enola is a wonderful protaganist.  She is intelligient, insecure, inventive and cleverly bold.  Her moments of fear and sadness round her out  to give her character depth and emotion the reader can really identify with.  She is growing, changing and learning as the series progresses, as are her two older brothers, one of whom is the famous Sherlock.  Enola and Sherlock are sort of doing a slow dance around each other, each trying to figure the other out.  Enola longs for but is afraid of a relationship with her much older brother.  He is her hero.  Sherlock is constantly having to rethink his assumptions of his sister and is coming to regret that he has made it so she can not trust him.  He is gaining a good deal of respect for her cheekiness and her ability to live independently.   Enola's feelings toward her mother continue to change and are complex.  I just want to reach into the book and give the girl a hug, but she probably would not appreciate the gesture.

I like these books for being very different from the first, the author has come up with unique cases although they are still about missing persons..  Enola is on the run and having to employ many disguises.  Each plot is unique in how she goes about this.  One aspect I really like is that Enola refuses to go the expected route and pose as a boy.  She acknowledges she may have to at some point, but has so far managed to avoid it.  Thank you Nancy Springer for so nicely avoiding an overdone plot device.  Enola is smarter than that.

Marketed towards middle grade, these books will be easily enjoyed by adults as well. In fact, there are some allusions, such as Enola finding a bottle of clear liquid and a syringe in her brother Sherlock's locked drawer, that most of the target audience will not get.  These books do not do anything to put a shiny gloss on Victorian London either.  They are frank and contain some disturbing scenes.  There is quite a bit more violence in the second than in the first and it is very realistically portrayed. 

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