Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sherlock Holmes's Other Sister

After a ridiculously deep snowfall and a power outage this morning, it seemed like a fine time to catch up on some reading. Top of the pile: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer.

With Nancy Springer appearing at 221B Con this year and her main character, Enola Holmes, cast to be played by Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, the first book in this series for younger readers seemed a must-read, so I contented myself to sit down and give the book that rare "one sitting, start-to-finish" read.

I was wondering at first if I was going to get into the book, as the start seemed a little more Jane Austen than Sherlock Holmes, but The Case of the Missing Marquess is an origin story, if ever there was one, and every hero's origin has to start somewhere in order to get somewhere else. And, boy, did Enola Holmes get somewhere else.

Enola Holmes is fourteen years old. In Victorian London.

And as Nancy Springer lays out the obstacles in Enola Holmes's way, I have to admit, I didn't have much in the way of expectations for poor Enola. Mycroft is a complete jerk, as he can be. Sherlock is a bit better, but still having Sherlock's blind spots. One starts to expect that Enola is going to be resigned to boarding-school mysteries with brotherly guest appearances.

And then Enola starts kicking ass. Not literally, like she's a kung fu master out of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but in experiencing a coming-of-age that has nothing to do with discovering boys. Enola takes responsibility for her own life, finds her own path, and becomes a separate-but-equal member of the Holmes family, fitting in her own niche as well as Sherlock and Mycroft do in theirs.

As someone who was a fan of crazy ol' Eurus Holmes as a new Holmes sibling in BBC Sherlock, I found I was just as pleased with Enola Holmes as an original Canon sibling. They're completely different characters, but just as it was a joy to first discover Sherlock Holmes had a brother who was actually smarter than him, it's a joy to discover these little sisters who are even more clever in their respective ways. And unlike with Eurus, I get to look forward to at least five more adventures with Enola.

We've seen a lot of Holmes spin-off characters over the years, but it seems like the ones we're getting lately are a lively bunch. Charlotte Holmes, Enola Holmes . . . can't wait to see who's next.

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