What a charming little book! I have read Howl’s Moving Castle three times now over the course of 7 years and will be picking it up again and again in the future. The witty humour of Diana Wynne Jones, the lively characters and the constantly moving story along with all the cheeky little ideas make the story of Sophie Hatter and Wizard Howl so warm and uplifting.
Meet young Sophie Hatter, the eldest of three daughters, stuck in her late father’s hat shop. Being the eldest she has resigned herself to not making her fortune in life – until the evil Witch of the Waste pays her a visit and puts a curse on her. Finding herself as an old woman, Sophie decides to finally leave home and make something out of her life. She invites herself to the moving castle of the famously wicked wizard Howl, who is reportedly eating the hearts of young and beautiful girls. So Sophie has nothing to worry about – or does she?
The characters are lovingly depicted with all their little weaknesses. They all have one flaw or another, which brings the story forward in many places, and it’s refreshing to see characters that are so lively. Nobody is perfect and Sophie, Howl, Michael, Calcifer and all the others feel like well-rounded characters, real people, because of their little failings. And all their little clashes, quibbles and misunderstandings make for a very entertaining read. One of my favourite scenes is probably Howl “suffering” from man flu – priceless.
Diana Wynne Jones has a beautiful hand for witty and also cheeky humour. In one chapter Sophie decides to use 7-league-boots and ends up zipping all over the country, as she keeps tripping. Or the awkward situation, where Sophie ends up having to go to the King of Ingary twice, the second time just under a pretense, because she got lost. It’s also great finding out where Howl is really from… And of course the bickering between Sophie and Howl. The book is refreshing throughout and feels fast-paced without being rushed.
For those who only know the Ghibli film Howl’s Moving Castle – this book is very different in tone and style. I came to read the book because I loved the film and – like in so many other cases – both are very different. But I love them both for what they are and I like them seperately. There are many elements the film took over from the book and the overall story is of course still there, but a lot has been shuffled around. So I would recommend this book to Howl film fans, as long as they are aware to expect a different tone of voice.
Howl’s Moving Castle is a delightful novel, that can be enjoyed by children and adults a like. There are fairy tale elements, fire demons, lively characters and a happy ever after. It will leave you with a smile on your face and it’s worth being picked up again and again. A thoroughly enjoyable read!