Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Release Date: August 1st, 2001 (originally January 1st, 1986)
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 329 (Paperback)
Genre: Fantasy | Romance | Young Adult
Series: Castle #1
Read: from July 18 to 23, 2012
Source & Shelf: Purchase | Own
In which a witch bewitched the hatter’s daughter – and then some….
Sophie lived in the town of Market Chipping, which was in Ingary, a land in which anything could happen, and often did – especially when the Witch of the Waste got her dander up. Which was often. As her younger sisters set out to seek their fortunes, Sophie stayed in her father’s hat shop. Which proved most unadventurous, until the Witch of the Waste came in to buy a bonnet, but was not pleased. Which is why she turned Sophie into an old lady. Which was spiteful witchery.
Now Sophie must seek her own fortune. Which means striking a bargain with the lecherous Wizard Howl. Which means entering his ever-moving castle, taming a blue fire-demon, and meeting the Witch of the Waste head-on. Which was more than Sophie bargained for….
I am one of those rare persons who still haven’t seen the movie by Hayao Miyazaki… I know, I know… prepare your torches and pitchforks to hunt me down.
So, I was completely caught my surprised while reading this book. Which was a nice thing though because this book was simply amazing.
The first word that popped into my head when I first finished this was: adorable!
It is indeed such an adorable and cute story I couldn’t put it down. There were some parts were I laughed out loud and almost rolled on the floor laughing, others I just kept smiling. I labelled this book as “one-of-those-you-can’t-read-in-the-street-without-making-a-fool-of-yourself“. A nice label by the way since I do make quite a fool of myself in the street while reading a book.
The characters were a pure delight. They were so funny and original I wished they were real and not characters written in a book.
Sophie, turned into a 90 years-old lady, is always complaining and nosy. She really managed to bring the true nature of a “grandmother” despite her young years. Being the elder daughter, she thought her fortunes were always doomed until destiny proved her wrong. She is, indeed, one of the luckiest girls in Ingary without even knowing. She was mature enough to embrace her misfortune, being transformed by the Witch of the Waste, and keep moving forward in order to change it. But she caught up in the webs of Howl’s adventures and Calcifer’s treaty. She would worry about others despite of herself but she also had a selfish side. In fact she was so human I would love to meet her personally.
Howl, the wizard everyone is afraid and scared because she captures young girls and eats them, is my favourite character! When we first meet him he seems quite shallow, vain, conceited and doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He’s character was a bit nerving and hard to appreciate at first, with all the tales told about him ringing in my mind. But as Sophie, and ourselves, come to know him better, he’s not the monster everyone thinks. As the plot unfolds, he’s turned into quite a lone guy who can’t help being the way he is and whose destiny is crossed by a spell he has to avoid at all costs. And then, when we finally realise he’s a great heart and falls in love with Sophie – best part in the book for me when he comes to rescue her – I can’t help but adore him.
Calcifer, the fire demon and the “person” in charge of moving the castle, was a character I had a difficult time to know what to think of him. At first he sort of scared me. I didn’t know whether he was evil or not, what he’s plan was and all. The word “demon” here, however, doesn’t actually mean “evil“. Calcifer became a character needed in the story, his riddles and he’s humour being a very appreciated. I loved him as I loved Howl.
The storyline was very well developed since it hooks us in chapter one till the very end. It’s hard to put it down for a minute ’cause you just want to read more and more and get to know what’s going to happen. It was intriguing, funny and very smart. It had a bit of melodrama from Howl which I found extremely delightful. And there was also a chapter in which we are taken to the present day each added a bit of fantasy to the story and made me laugh so hard with the description of Sophie in the car.
Howl’s Moving Castle is an adorable (need to find another word for this), hilarious and delightful read for every age. I say it’s a “must-read” for certain!
Oh, and as soon as I manage to see the movie, I’ll let you know what I think of it, alright?
‘Cause, how can I refuse to watch a movie in which Christian Bale gives voice to Howl?
EDIT: I’ve already seen the movie and really enjoyed it. Though different from the book, the essence that made the book wonderful was there as well. I recommend both the book and the movie 🙂