Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews
The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery
For ages 10 and up
Penguin, 2007 ISBN: 978-0142409336
When Enola’s mother disappears on Enola’s fourteen birthday, Enola doesn’t know what to think. Why would her mother do such a thing? What is Enola supposed to do now? After the initial shock wears off, Enola contacts her brothers Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. After they arrive, Enola discovers why the brothers stayed away from the family home and she begins to wish that she hadn’t called for them at all. Mycroft announces that Enola is to be sent to a girl’s finishing school and that she will have to start wearing clothes befitting a young lady of her class. The idea of having to live in a corseted world where she will have to learn how to be an ornament rather than a thinking and reasoning individual horrifies Enola. There is no way that she is going to accept this.
So, like her mother before her, and for very much the same reason, Enola runs away from home. Thankfully, before she leaves, Enola discovers that her mother did in fact leave messages and money for Enola. Enola realizes that her mother knew exactly what she was doing and that she gave Enola all the tools that the girl would need to make it in the world by herself if she had to.
Enola has barely started her adventure when she stumbles across what everyone is calling a kidnapping. Having many of the skills of her famous detective brother, Enola soon discovers that this is no kidnapping and that the child, a Marquess, has in fact run away from home. Little does Enola know that she and the young Marquess are going to cross paths in London and that they are both going to be running for their lives in the not too distant future.
Nancy Springer presents a very compelling picture of Victorian England, helping her readers to see that it was not always the warm comforting world that one sees on the covers of Christmas cards. It had a dark side too. It was a world where the poor had little hope, where women and children died in the streets by the hundreds. It was also a world where women could not own property and where they were expected to live in a narrow confined world without many of the freedoms that men took for granted. It was a world where, of you were female and wanted to be yourself, you had to find a way around the system through subterfuge and careful planning. The author presents this world in its true and stark colors and yet she leaves us with the hope that Enola will indeed find what she is looking for.
This is the first book in what promises to be a gripping and superbly written series about a girl sleuth who tries to make her way in a man’s world.