by Dianna Wynne Jones
Publisher: Greenwillow Books; HarperCollins
Print Length: 448 pages
Release Year: 1986
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.28
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. (Goodreads)
When I first read this book I’m quite sure that I was the target age group, but I can’t remember. What I can remember is that since then, it has been one of my most favourite books of all time.
I reread it recently to comfort myself while being quite ill. I wanted to read something I’ve not only read before but something that reads quite easily. Howl’s is one of those books I can read in one sitting, not only because it’s not very long but because I find it utterly engaging.
The late Mrs Jones’s writing is both fantastical and full of whimsy. No wonder Hiyao Miyazaki took on this story to adapt into one of his acclaimed films. The characters are well developed, in a way not often seen in children’s books. And though the writing style seems to tend to tell more than show, there is still plenty to see in between the lines. Which is a fascinating thing, considering the intended audience. It tells you quite a bit, yes, but also shows you enough to teach young readers what to look for while reading. As an adult, the “telling” can be annoying at times, but the details you find in the cracks makes it all worthwhile.
You can’t read this book and not fall in love with the titular Howl, as well as the protagonist Sophie. They’re both charming in very different ways, and practically every moment spent with them laughs are to follow. Even secondary characters such as Micheal and Calcifer are memorable. Who can forget not to bully Calcifer, or “may all your bacon burn!”
If you’ve seen the movie, I highly recommend you read the book. While they are quite different at times the themes are the same and so is the sense of whimsy. Howl’s Moving Castle is a true classic in children’s storytelling, and deserves all the attention our beloved Howl demands