In Victorian England, the Holmes family's reputation precedes them. Eldest brother Mycroft refrains from the street beat and prefers armchair detective work, while Sherlock is a London staple; the first to be contacted in the face of mystery and the first to deduce his way to a case's completion. However, there has been one person that both brothers have struggled to find – a fourteen-year-old girl named Enola…the youngest of the Holmes siblings.
There is good reason Enola does not want her brothers to find her. In the aftermath of their mother's disappearance, the traditional Holmes brothers made a unanimous decision to send the clever girl to a finishing school. Enola has other ventures in mind, however, and finding her mother is only part of the long journey the young girl finds herself on in an effort to eschew her gendered expectations.
IDW imprint Euro Comics announced the graphic novel adaptation of Nancy Springer's popular series mid-April 2018, and part three The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets hit shelves this March. It opens with young Enola discovering that her brother's esteemed partner, Dr. John H. Watson, has gone missing. Disguising herself to prevent detection from her brothers in the streets of London, Enola is determined to track down Sherlock's most famous partner. She begins at Watson's home, interviewing his distressed wife, hoping that she may have a clue in tracking down the long gone doctor. Rather than deciphering any information from Mrs. Watson, Enola notices an unsettling theme in none other than the floral arrangements sitting in the home study.
"White poppies," she comments to the distressed wife in a dismissive way. An expert in floral symbolism, Enola remarks that while a red poppy represents remembrance and hope, its white counterpart is generally noted to mean sleep. Convinced that these flowers represent something more sinister, she sets off on a series of clues to find the true meaning of these bouquets and how they could possibly lead to Dr. Watson.
Filled cover to cover with dynamic storytelling and picturesque art, Springer's work translates well to the comic book medium. There was considerate care in how this story was developed for a new medium, and Serena Blasco's artwork doesn't give the mystery away. The panels stretch in unique ways across each page, often putting heavy text in to distract readers from what could be a clue to Dr. Watson's whereabouts or the meaning of the nefarious floral arrangements. It is also refreshingly modern, with Enola striving for independence with her crafty disguises and astute observation skills in a time where young girls were encouraged to be seen and not heard. Fans of Sherlock Holmes will find themselves rooting against him, and finding a newfound hero in the family with the often-overlooked Enola.
The Enola Holmes: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets trade runs for a cool $14.99 USD, and comes with Enola's own notes describing how to use flowers for encoded messages, ways to decode ciphers, and so much more. It serves as a great platform for anyone itching for a female protagonist with a flair for observational detective work, making fun of traditional tropes and expanding on what fans may have thought they knew about Sherlock Holmes and his universe. With the announcement that this will soon be adapted into a film, with Millie Bobbie Brown as the titular character, give yourself a chance to check this series out before the twist gets spoiled on the big screen.