Enola Holmes: The Graphic Novels Book Two
It surprised me how much I enjoyed reading Enola Holmes: The Graphic Novels Book Two. I appreciated the idea of Enola Holmes previously — I liked the movie well enough, although I thought it would have been the same film if you’d changed her name — but it didn’t engage me. Intellectually, I was glad that this kind of character existed for a younger audience, although I had some quibbles about the premise that kept me from enjoying it myself. This volume, though, moved past the elements that gave me pause, allowing me to enjoy three period adventures starring a spirited young woman.
Enola Holmes: The Graphic Novels Book Two collects comic adaptations by Serena Blasco of the fourth, fifth, and sixth books in the young adult novel series by Nancy Springer. Those are The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (with the return of Lady Cecily Alistair, from The Case of the Left-Handed Lady), The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, and The Case of the Baker Street Station (originally published as The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye; changed, I assume, because that term is now considered a slur).
These novels are more fun for me than the previous because Enola gets to work with her famous brother Sherlock while still demonstrating her own skills and knowledge. Her cases often involve the fashions of the time or the expectations put on women, areas that male detectives don’t pay attention to. That gives her a plausible way to make her own observations and deductions.
The art style is nicely distinctive, with the soft coloring particularly striking. Too often works set in this period are colored in dark browns, but the pastels used here bring light and light-heartedness to the stories — even when the plots are dark. The cases here include a forced marriage, kidnappings, and attempted murder.
The women under threat don’t have a lot of options. Having Enola help them reinforces the fight against the misogyny of the era, thankfully this time around without making her brothers idiots about it. Readers also learn some history, whether it’s the secret language of fans or about Florence Nightengale’s war work, as she is a supporting character in the second story.
There are codes and plenty of disguises, as well as Enola getting the chance to save Sherlock when their cases cross. I was glad to see movement in the siblings’ relationships; that makes for a nice connecting thread among the three stories.