Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Enola Holmes: The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline

Author: Nancy Springer
Series: Book 5 of the Enola Holmes series
Pages: 160
Genre: Historical fiction/mystery
Recommended to: Middle-grade readers
Cover Score: B
Overall Grade: B

Enola Holmes is a very lonely girl indeed. With her mother's disappearance and her brothers (including famous detective Sherlock) hunting her down with plans of putting her into a girls' "finishing school", it's no wonder Enola's name spells "alone" backwards. So when Mrs. Tupper, Enola's mother-like landlady, goes missing, Enola takes the odd kidnapping personally. Why would anyone want to kidnap kind, sweet, and innocent old Mrs. Tupper? Does she have a dark past that Enola doesn't know of? And what do spies, Florence Nightingale, and an old dress have to do with it?
My thoughts: I have been extremely disappointed with the past few Enola Holmes mysteries, so I don't know why I bothered picking this one up. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it broke the not-so-great spell. Perhaps this is because it was significantly shorter than the other books, which made it easier to understand the content. Still, there were quite a few issues that didn't make the book A+-material.
The ongoing problem with these books is that they're set in 1889-London. I love this aspect, it gives the atmosphere of the books such a dark, spooky, and enthralling background that kind of sucks you in to the story. The bad part is that the words are sometimes hard to understand, and certain parts can be out of context. These books are written for 21st century American tweens and teens, how can we expect to know what a "crinoline" is or understand a Cockney accent? In certain parts of the book, I would have to read and reread what was going on, which could be not very fun and irritating.
However, I love how Ms. Springer makes the story more complex by adding codes and twists and turns. These books can be so hard to follow, though, I don't know what's going on, and, in this one as well as the others, there was no clear explanation on what was going on or what really happened in the cliff-hanger ending. Cliff-hangers can be effective sometimes, but for the whole length of the book I was trying to catch up and figure out what was going on! As well as this, there were so many characters to keep track of that kept on being introduced right until the end.
Overall, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline was a bit of an involved read, but the mystery was intriguing and the characters are fantastic, so I'll probably be picking up the next book in the series, The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye, coming out next year.


Juju from Tales of Whimsy said...

I'm not sure why this book appeals to me so. Maybe it's because the cover makes me think of the old Clue gameboard.

Kiki said...

omg, it's Sherlock Holmes's sister?! cool!!

Anonymous said...

I have read all of the Enola Holmes books and was looking for the next one when I came apon this!! I totally disagree with the afore mentioned comments. Enola is wonderful and I like that I had to look online to find out what a Crinoline was and I am 40 years old. The large words not only expand vocabulary but they also teach that sometimes you actually do have to look things up to completely enjoy the topic. Also the language and usage of words would explain why these books are a 7th grade reading level. The books would require a 5th grader to utilize a dictionary occasionally. I felt that I have learned alot about about London in 1889 and it has made me think about where some of our traditions have come from. I have truely enjoyed these books, I love Sherlock Holmes and I can not wait for my daughter to be old enough to read these books. I THINK THAT ENOLA HOLMES COULD BE THE NEXT NANCY DREW!!!