ENOLA HOLMES: THE CASE OF MISSING MARQUESS BY NANCY SPRINGER AND SERENA BLASCO
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Enola Holmes isn't just a great book for kids, it's a great book period. Charming characters and beautiful artwork make this graphic novel a treat for young readers, and readers who are young at heart.
92 %
INTRIGUE, WHIMSY, AND BEAUTY

ENOLA HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS is a graphic novel adaptation of Nancy Springer’s young-adult mystery novel of the same name. Adapted and illustrated by Serena Blasco, it stars the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, Enola, who sets out to London to find her mother. Along the way, she comes across another mystery — a young viscount’s disappearance. I often have difficulty trying to criticize a comic that was clearly meant for a younger audience. I have to maintain the mindset of a fifth grader or a middle-school student, so that the book can be appropriately judged. Luckily, I didn’t have to perform such mental exercises for this book. ENOLA HOLMES is a great book that readers of any age can enjoy.

Enola Holmes
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

On the Case

While the original book came out a little over 10 years ago, it wouldn’t be fair to discuss ENOLA HOLMES without mentioning the writing. Enola, being the main character, is obviously going to get the most attention. Enola is clever, strong-willed, and mischievous, but polite. While she is the sister of the one and only Sherlock, detective work isn’t in the Holmes’s blood. I really appreciated that Springer didn’t just take Enola and make her “Sherlock, but a girl.” Unlike Holmes, Enola is much more of a people-person. She uses disguises and her words to solve mysteries, but she uses evidence, as well. They just aren’t her only source of clues.

Enola Holmes
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

At the beginning, she falls into that whole “Everyone wants me to wear a corset, but I want to be an adventurer!” cliché, but there’s a very good reason for this here. If your mother was missing, you probably wouldn’t want to wait around doing nothing either. Enola’s outgoing, rebellious spirit makes her a more capable detective, going places she wouldn’t have gone if she lacked that girl-power fire. Some clichés exist for a reason: they work! And here, it works perfectly.

Connecting the Dots

The mark of every good mystery is the author’s ability to get the reader to think like the detective. Enola’s missing mother is the overarching mystery of the series, and thus won’t be solved for the next couple books. Still, I found myself trying to piece together why Mrs. Holmes would have left using the clues in the book. The missing heir, while not as interesting as the clues left behind by Enola’s mother, was still entertaining. There was a clever little twist that I won’t give away, but if you look for the clues before Enola solves it herself, you can see it coming. This is a good thing. A good mystery brings the reader in for the ride. Suddenly receiving a new piece of information at the end that solves the whole thing makes it feel anticlimactic.

Enola Holmes
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

Blasco’s Amazing Watercolors

One would think that taking a young-adult novel and adapting it into a comic would make the overall experience more juvenile, or even lazy. Why read the whole book when you can pick up the shorter version with pictures? However, the story is not diluted with the addition of illustrations and speech bubbles. In fact, Serena Blasco’s lovely artwork adds more to appreciate. With the addition of clues you can actually see, readers are even further encouraged to become detectives themselves. Plus, there is no denying that the artwork is plain gorgeous to look at.

Enola Holmes
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

A Study in Scarlet, Pink, Gold, Blue…

A recurring symbol of Enola Holmes is flowers, which seems to have influenced the overall art style. The pinks, golds, and reds create a sunny, natural atmosphere, even when Enola ventures onto the city streets. It’s almost comforting, in a sort of way. Perhaps the colors remind me of a sunset. Perhaps the watercolor style reminds me of old picture books I used to read as a kid. Either way, Blasco’s style tickled something in the back of my brain that I didn’t expect a young-adult graphic novel to reach.

Enola Holmes
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

While the characters may be cartoony, they aren’t simple. The complicated Victorian dresses and suits have the right amount of detail without clashing with the whimsical designs of the people that wear them. My favorite aspect of Blasco’s art is the sense of movement she creates with the characters and backgrounds. Enola’s long hair and flowing dress blowing in the wind make her feel even more animated. Even the subtlest bounce of fabric as a character turns her head gives these static images a sense of animation. If there’s one word I would describe this book’s art style, it would be “flowy.”

Final Thoughts on ENOLA HOLMES

Whenever I read a comic that was clearly intended for a younger audience, I always feel the need to say, “This wasn’t for me, but your little kid might like it,” or, “This wasn’t that good, but it’s for kids, and they won’t mind.” Not the case for Enola Holmes. The writing and characters will draw in young readers, and the artwork will leave them looking over each page over and over again. Even if you’re out of grade school, you’ll find something to appreciate in IDW’s first adaptation of the ENOLA HOLMES series. You can buy your copy of the first ENOLA HOLMES graphic novel adaptation at your local comic book shop, IDW’s official site today, or via Amazon on November 27th.

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