It’s late 19th-century England and 10-year-old Miss Christie spends her days in the company of maids and governesses while her parents are away in India. While she considers herself a proper lady, she also proves to be a problem for her caretakers as she often slips away to tag along on cases with her uncle, the infamous Sherlock Holmes. After years of looking up to him, Miss Christie has developed astute sleuthing skills of her own and is eager to put these skills into practice. In this volume, Young Miss Holmes Casebook 1-2, we see Miss Christie and Sherlock Holmes take on five cases around London and Miss Christie’s country estate.
This manga adaptation by Kaoru Shintani takes stories from the Sherlock Holmes canon and puts a new spin on them. Our protagonist, Miss Christie, is a precocious and vivacious girl whom young readers will want to follow on adventures. Depending on the case, either Miss Christie will try to deduce one that Sherlock has already solved or she will do her own investigation in parallel. For the most part, the basics of the stories and their outcomes follow closely with the originals. In addition to Sherlock and Watson, who are characterized as usual, Shintani also includes a few other new characters, notably Miss Christie’s two maids Nora and Miss Hopkins, who serve as her protectors and often show up wielding whips and guns and provide some comic relief.
The stories themselves move along fairly quickly, often not allowing much time for the reader to solve the mysteries themselves. There is also a lot of repeat information when both Miss Christie and Sherlock Holmes solve the cases in parallel. Both of these aspects, however, can make these stories appealing for more reluctant readers. While the overall tone is quite light and breezy, do note that most of the cases deal with more adult themes like murder, suicide, and adultery. It is rated as all-ages and features a young protagonist, but the book may not be suitable for all young readers and is probably best for a middle school age range and up. Also note that the book introduces a crossover with the series Dance in the Vampire Bund, which is rated 16+.
The creator Kaoru Shintani illustrates in a very classic manga style that will be familiar to readers of shoujo manga in particular. He makes great use of sound effects, facial expressions, and differing perspectives making this a very visually rich reading experience.
Overall, Young Miss Holmes is pure fun. It would be a good introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes for those who are not familiar with it, while also being amusing for more seasoned Holmes fans. Two more volumes will be available in the United States by fall 2013, comprising the full run of issues. Each case is fairly self-contained, however, so the first volume could stand alone.