02 December 2022

Sherlock's Kid Sister Returns!

Boy, have the marketing geniuses in the back room got us pegged. They know that we are positively nutty for our Holmes. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Netflix released the long-anticipated sequel to their 2020 film, Enola Holmes 2 about the adventures of the younger sister of the Great Detective.

I discussed the first film last year. Edgar-winning author Nancy Springer wrote the (now) eight-book series from which the concept sprung. For two years, Enola fans whispered the rumor that the second film would draw inspiration from The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, the second book in the series. Not so! I’m afraid that I’m a bit of an author snob. The plot here is fun and clever, but I prefer film franchises to adhere as closely to the source material as possible.

As our tale opens, Sherlock’s teenaged sister has opened a detective agency of her own. Yes, at 16 or 17 years of age, she does strike one as a bit young to be doing such a thing in Victorian London, but as Mother Holmes says in a flashback: “Too many people make it their sole purpose in life to fit into the world around them. This is a mistake!”

Business at the agency isn’t great, but dear brother Sherlock fares no better. The banking scandal he’s investigating has proved “vexing,” his sister reports. After a number of potential clients decline to avail themselves of Enola’s services—“Are you you sure we can’t get Sherlock?” says one—she takes the case proffered by a young matchstick girl whose sister has gone missing. Before long, Enola is disguising herself to gain entrance to upper crust balls, employing the womanly arts of pugilism and bartitsu to dispatch malefactors, and the game is soooo afoot.

Millie Bobby Brown returns as Enola. Henry Cavill is back as the devilishly handsome Superman—er, I mean Sherlock. The actor who played Mycroft in the last outing was unable to join us this time around, but Helena Bonham Carter returns as the free-spirited Mrs. Holmes, mother of the brilliant three siblings.

The sets and production values all look appropriate, delightful, and convincing. Many of the things I liked the first time around caught my eye again. Enola breaks the fourth wall to address viewers. Back stories are filled in via a fun assortment of animated black-and-white photo sequences. And the plot is advanced through the use of secret codes, wordplay, poems, and clues referring to flowers that young viewers will have no trouble following.

I was intrigued to find that the plot was drawn from a real-life labor action at a Victorian match factory. And I was glad that the story had such a strong feminist leaning, since that is the central thematic interest of the Springer series. That said, the ending still struck this adult as a little pat.

That was not my biggest quibble with the film. Without giving too much away, I might mention that the ultimate villain of this saga turns out to be a certain professor of mathematics who will vex Sherlock for decades to come. It’s fun to see the Napoleon of Crime—and this is by far the most original incarnation of the character I have ever seen—but I couldn’t help thinking, “Really? You’re only on your second film and you play the Moriarty card? Most vexatious, indeed!”

But what do I know? This film debuted on the streaming network in early November and quickly hit Netflix’s No. 1 in 93 countries.

I promise you that if you gather around with the family to watch, adults and kids alike will have a blast, though not for the same reasons. Serious Sherlock geeks will enjoy the specter of a drunken Sherlock. They will admire the pluck of a screenwriter who dares give us Lestrade’s first name for the first time on film. And they will probably snort aloud (as I did) when Enola turns to the camera and quips, “The game has found its feet again!”

Sweet Diogenes! Thank goodness we have Holmes for the holidays.

* * * 

Please note: If you are thinking of starting a young reader on the books this season, bear in mind that there are currently eight in the series. Some online retailers confuse the number of titles because Springer has more than one publisher. See the bibliography here.  

See you all in three weeks!



  1. I haven't seen the movies, but I have enjoyed the books (I've listened to the first five, I think). The first one was delightful: The Case of the Missing Marquess. Everyone should start there, and if you can listen to the ebook, do. Great reader.


    1. They are very charming books. She has definitely mastered that voice, and it's fun to contemplate how SH would treat a younger female sibling.

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  3. Elizabeth Dearborn02 December, 2022 13:09

    Sounds like fun! I might not be able to get Mr. Elizabeth to watch though, since he believes Basil Rathbone was the One True Sherlock.

  4. Joe, I've seen both movies, and truly enjoyed them. Millie Bobby Brown is a treasure, and I had no trouble accepting Cavill's Sherlock. And I thought breaking the fourth wall (the way Enola did it, at least) worked well here.

    Loved this post.

  5. Thank you for this post. I have loved Millie Bobby Brown since she was in an NCIS episode as a kid. She is a wonderful actress. I loved Nancy Springer's books since I met a few years ago and have read a few. Not sure how I missed this series. I will check them out. Must see these movies, too.


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