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‘An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets’ – Hardcover Review

First appearing in 1887, Sherlock Holmes is undoubtedly the world’s most popular fictional detective. (Sorry, Batman.)  The character, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is so instilled in pop culture that most of the detective tropes we see today come right from classic Sherlock Holmes stories.  With countless novels, award-winning TV shows, and summer blockbuster movies, it is impossible to escape the good detective in your favorite medium.  While most of these incarnations are okay, they rarely say anything new.  Where the challenge lies is adding to the Sherlock Holmes lore and not just re-imagining or rehashing what the series was built upon.  Before hearing of Nancy Springer’s work and now Serena Blasco, I would have assumed that the Holmes world had been squeezed dry with the same characters, same stakes, same “who done its.”  After reading An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, I have never been so happy to be wrong.

Literary pastiche series An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets is based on the Nancy Springer YA novels that borrow characters and settings from the established canon of Sherlock Holmes.  Nancy Springer adds another fold into the Holmes tapestry by introducing the Enola character who is Springer’s creation and specific to this series. The younger sister of Sherlock and Minecraft who is a budding detective in her own right, with the brilliance and courage of her well-known siblings.  In the adaptation of Springer’s third novel, Sherlock’s companion, Dr. John Watson, has gone missing. Enola discovers a bouquet of flowers at the scene of the crime. Using the language of the flowers and prodigal detective skills, she sets out to find the missing doctor and his kidnapper.

Of course, parody is easy, but actually adding to a timeless world and raising the level of excellence is astounding. Just as Springer has done with Enola in her series, artist and storyteller Serena Blasco has done here with this incarnation of the third book in the Edgar Award-winning novels.  Blasco uses her prolific skills as a watercolor painter to bring Springer’s mystery to life. Her sublime and distinctive watercolor style literally gives the pages the feel of one-of-a-kind works of art. A classically trained artist, she uses timeless techniques at a time when many comics artists draw digitally.  The artist continues to paint by hand on paper, and it’s evident she draws much inspiration from European artists Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir.  Her use of colors and the expressive, soft characters give strength and curiosity to each page.  The mix of impressionistic and fine details add to the whole picture, and it’s truly special to see old-school watercolor methods in popular comics today.   

Rather than solely praise the visual aspects of The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, I must give props to the storytelling and pacing, as well.  Blasco deserves huge accolades for making this a superb detective tale from beginning to end.  As Enola races to solve the mystery before her super sleuth brother, no time is wasted and every page’s illustration and each line of dialogue is of utmost importance.  Like a well-designed mystery should, the story makes the reader feel as Enola’s “right hand.” The use of narration and creative page layouts gave me the feeling I was inside the mind of the young detective.  You get to see the thought process and share all of the “Eureka” moments.  

All and all, this is an amazing mystery comic.  If this is your first mystery comic, you can’t do much better.  It’s easy to jump into because of the long history of the Sherlock Holmes lore, but there is enough new territory covered that it feels like its own world.  Serena Blasco is the perfect artist for this series, and I can’t wait to go back and pick up the first two volumes.  The stakes are high in The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, and although I will not spoil the ending, in the essence of Enola, I will leave you with a clue.  This review is an acrostic, and as long winded as it was, the answer is a breeze. 

Creative Team: Serena Blasco (writer, artist)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Click here to purchase.

Billy Peden, Fanbase Press Guest Contributor



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