When Enola learns of a missing left-handed artist, she uses a series of clever disguises to brave lurking dangers and follow cryptic clues that lead to the young Lady Cecily.Two-time recipient of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery, New York Times best-selling author Nancy Springer is known for her beloved Tales of Rowan Hood, her award-winning Arthurian novels, and her critically acclaimed The Case of the Missing Marquess - the first of her compelling mysteries starring the precocious sister of Sherlock Holmes.More
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Brilliant, imaginative, original, and....fun!
Nancy Springer deserves much credit. The concept of a 'Sherlock Holmes Younger Sister' young adult genre could have been as dull, vapid, and predictable as -- sorry -- the old 'Nancy Drew' serials.
But Ms. Springer has created a genuinely inspired character of depth, passion, emotion, and isn't afraid to make her fallible and and occasionally unlikeable -- in other words, a believable fourteen-year-old girl.
While Enola can be a bit unlikeable at times, overall she is a magnificent, resonant character, easily as fascinating as her older brother, or brothers, to be precise, even if Mycroft doesn't appear all that often in Conan-Doyle's canonical tales.It's also impossible not to admire the detail and significant differences that a female point of view in Victorian England that Springer has decorated the tale with. It was such a male-dominate society that one forgets that females were little more than property of men, who generally had little regard for the distaff's intelligence, reasoning ability, or even sense of moral purpose. As we watch Enola, and -- vicariously -- her mother try to navigate these murky waters, I can't help but admire both female Holmes 'alternate' use of the imprisoning foundation garments of the day, the bustle, corset, and other various 'dress enhancers' to better, and frankly brilliant, purposes.
In this, Book the Second (to borrow Ms. Springer's chapter headings), Enola becomes somewhat more settled with the idea of 'doing quite well on her own', to use her mother's turgid phrase. This book flows more easily, inevitable as so much of the first book had so much unavoidable 'back story'. And readers may possibly be interested that this polishing and honing continue in the following books; they simply get better and better.
The performance by Katherine Kellgren is spot-on, as well. Her fine sense of timing, and of pitch, pacing and her excellent grasp of accents from Home Counties, to Eatonian, to East End Cockney was lovely, quite entertaining, and there was never any doubt as to whom was speaking. Brilliant!
While this novel may be directed towards a young adult market, it is so multilayered that adults will enjoy it as much as the teenaged reader. As I said at the beginning, Nancy Springer has a magnificent achievement in this book. She is an ornament to the writing profession.
However, I'm afraid that she has made a series so genuinely gripping that she might have to keep producing them for her eager audience. So please, Ms. Springer -- keep Enola away from Reichenbach Falls.
- Dirk Turgid
Fantastic story but definitely PG-13
- Shelley Snyder