Monday, February 6, 2012

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle (Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones.
Publisher: Greenwillow Books.
Pages: 429.
Source: Purchased.
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl--and herself--than first meets the eye.

I scrambled to get my hands on this book after watching the movie, which I absolutely fell in love with. It's a fantasy, it has magic, it has hilarious, lovable characters in a plot that is sort of dark and twisted. (And it came from Studio Ghibli. Even though that has nothing to do with the story, it feels worth mentioning since I love all of their movies) The book, though wildly different from the movie, is just as charming and magical as the movie, probably more.

This book has a classic feel about it, and it's not written the way most YA fantasies are today. At first, that kind of irked me, even though I think it mostly had to do with the fact that I'm not used to classics. The opening chapter was just a recap of Sophie's life so far but it was so impersonable. The more I read, the more I loosened up. Sure, it's being told in third person and Sophie's not as emotional and hormonal and immature as heroines often are nowadays, but she's admirable and witty and carries the entire story regardless. Once I got nudged out of my own comfort zone, I was swept up into Howl's world of talking fires and walking castles and live scarecrows and curses and spells and much more awesomeness that would take too much time to list.

I was so happy that, with all of the major plot changes of the movie, all of my favorite characters were present and entertaining and snarky as ever. Book Calcifer is a bit too serious for my liking, but his strange relationship with Howl made up for it. Howl is even more whiny and overdramatic and rude but I can't help but love him. He's an unconventional hero, that's for sure, but his flaws make up a great part of his charm.

Overall, I'm so happy that I bought myself a copy of Howl's Moving Castle. It's funny and magical and adventurous and had the fantasy fangirl in me positively GIDDY by the time I closed the book. (Seriously, if you're a fantasy fan and you haven't read this yet, I'm DEMANDING you get a copy. See? I used caps. I mean business) I almost wish Howl and his castle were real so I could climb aboard and join their little dysfunctional family. I definitely recommend everybody read this book! It's pretty old, but totally worth checking out!

Other reviews for Howl's Moving Castle:
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile.
Good Books And Good Wine.
Medieval Bookworm.
Bookwyrm Chrysalis.


  1. Oh dear, I love this book AND film SO MUCH! It's definitely in the vein of 'classic' fantasy, as you mention - Robin McKinley and Patricia C. Wrede also come to mind as something like Wynne Jones. Great review!

  2. I adored the movie. HAVE to get my hands on this book.

  3. Awesome - I just got this from the library, but wasn't sure about it, after reading the first page.... will definitely keep reading! :)

  4. This is one of those super rare occasions where I liked the movie better than the book.

  5. I <3 the novel and the movie. Perfection. Great review.

  6. I love the movie, and I was so happy when I found out it's based on a book. This book is actually a first in a series. Great review, and I'm looking forward to hear your thoughts on the rest of the series.

  7. I am about to grab out my pom poms and JUMP FOR JOY that you ended up giddy with love over Howl's Moving Castle! I love when this happens to people and with books that I already love. AND YAY FOR CLASSIC YA FANTASY!

    I'll admit your love for Howl's Moving Castle totally makes my day. That's bizarre, but true! YAY BOOK LOVE!

  8. So I'm trying to be mature right, now, but I really just want to SQUEE at everything you said. I totally love Howl's Castle and recently re-read it, which sent me off into a new spiral of fandom. On top of that, I just watched Castle in The Sky and Ponyo, and consider myself a new fan of Studio Ghibli. (Although I didn't enjoy the movie version of Howl. Quiet sob.)

    But anyway. Yayyyyyy for you, discovering a new book!


  9. This book definitely is fantastic, the characters are amazing!

    Definitely HUGELY RIDICULOUSLY different than the movie though. Although I loved both as well.