The Case of the Missing Marquess: (Enola Holmes #1) Book and Movie Review

I read The Case of the Missing Marquess (only $2.99 on Kindle right now) many years ago when I was in my Sherlock Holmes pastiche phase (that phase lasted about 15 years!). I really liked the book, and when I saw that Netflix was releasing the movie Enola Holmes, I knew I had to re-visit the book and watch the movie.

From the publisher: When Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared—on her 14th birthday nonetheless—she knows she alone can find her. Disguising herself as a grieving widow, Enola sets out to the heart of London to uncover her mother’s whereabouts—but not even the last name Holmes can prepare her for what awaits. Suddenly involved in the kidnapping of the young Marquess of Basilwether, Enola must escape murderous villains, free the spoiled Marquess, and perhaps hardest of all, elude her shrewd older brother—all while collecting clues to her mother’s disappearance! 

I learned the word misogynist when I first picked up the Sherlock Holmes canon all those years ago. And over the years, the writers of pastiche have either embraced the description or set out to correct it. One of my favorite “corrections” is the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books by Laurie R. King (read my review for the latest release, Riviera Gold, here.) One of the other books I thought did a fair job was The Case of the Missing Marquess.

It’s Enola Holmes’ 14th birthday in the book, and her mother has gone missing. Which is unusual, because Enola and her mother were very close. They lived alone (with some servants) in the family manor, which is owned by Mycroft Holmes, the elder Holmes brother. He sends money to his mother for the upkeep of the estate and the education of Enola. Instead, Enola’s mother teaches her everything from the meaning of flowers in codes, tennis, Shakespeare (actually every book in the house), chemistry, jiu jitsu and ciphers. It’s safe to say that Enola has a lot in common with her famous brother. She’s just unbelievably smart in most matters, except what it’s like living in the outside world.

The Holmes brothers visit the estate and insist that they can find their mother, and Enola would be better off in a finishing school, since clearly the Holmes’ mother was not doing her duty in teaching Enola life skills like embroidery and flower arranging. Enola has other ideas. She steals away, determined to find her mother herself.

The Case of the Missing Marquess is the perfect girl-power YA mystery. Enola outsmarts her brothers repeatedly. She’s a feisty, intelligent, unconventional, modern young woman living in Victorian England. While Enola searches for her mother, she finds a missing Marquess, hence the title. I’m not sure why I didn’t continue on reading the series, although my Goodreads date that I read it gives a clue: motherhood got in the way. Now that my kids are older, I have time to read more and will be picking up the rest of the Enola Holmes series to read.

As for the movie, Enola Holmes, it was a delight. I wasn’t sure how I felt about breaking down the fourth wall from time to time, but ultimately decided that it worked since the film was narrated by Enola. The casting of Henry Cavill (Superman, for crying out loud) as Sherlock left my head scratching, but it proved to be an inspired choice. Cavill’s Sherlock expresses the slightest of emotions, like pride in his sister’s ability to slip through the brothers’ fingers repeatedly. So what if he doesn’t have the aquiline nose and tall slim figure? In this modern telling of Sherlock’s world, it works.

Millie Bobby Brown, star of Netflix’s series Stranger Things, is perfectly cast as Enola Holmes. Her age is upped to 16 to match Brown’s own age, which I thought made the story more believable, not less. She was awesome in Stranger Things, but Enola Holmes really shows how good of an actress she is.

The ending of the movie is not the same as the book, which I expected. We can only hope that Enola Holmes is popular enough with Netflix users that they order up more movies based upon the Nancy Springer books.

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