Eva from Coffee, Classics, and Craziness recommended this series to me because she knows I love Sherlock Holmes and good middle-grade fiction. Thanks, Eva! This was a fun, fast read.
Enola Holmes is the much, much, much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. While they're off pursuing their adult lives in London, she's growing up footloose and free in the country. Or she was. Their mother disappears on Enola's fourteenth birthday, and none of the Holmes siblings can figure out where she's gone.
Sherlock and Mycroft are appalled at the non-ladylike behavior of their little sister and determine to send her to boarding school so she can have a proper upbringing. Enola has been taught to fear things like corsets and male authority by her proto-feminist mother, and she runs away, determined to find her missing parent. Instead, she gets tangled up in the mystery of a runaway aristocrat and succeeds where her famous brothers fail.
The idea of Sherlock Holmes having a younger sister amused me greatly, and I really liked Enola as a character. I didn't enjoy the almost militant feminist overtones quite so much, and the book as a whole fell just a little into the trap of "let's make our detective look smarter by making everyone else kind of dim" that a lot of Holmes pastiches get snared in. However, I'm pretty sure I'll try another book in the series to see if I like it better.
Particularly Good Bits:
Lead-coloured clouds hung low while the setting sun oozed molten light between them; the Gothic towers of the city stood festive yet foreboding against that glowering sky, like candles on the Devil's birthday cake (p. 141).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for repeated mentions of ladies-of-the-evening and fairly delicate allusions to how they make their living. That's why I'd call this "middle-grade fiction" and not "junior fiction." No bad language or other objectionable material, though.