Title: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Published: March 5th 2009 (first published 1986)
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Source: Amazon GiftCard Purchase
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
“How about making a bargain with me?” said the demon. “I’ll break your spell if you agree to break this contact I’m under.”
In the land of Ingary, where seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, Sophie Hatter attracts the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste, who puts a curse on her. Determined to make the best of things, Sophie travels to the one place where she might get help – the moving castle which hovers on the nearby hills.
But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the hearts of young girls…
As a great lover of Studio Ghibli and their films, Howl’s Moving Castle was always my favourite and I’ll admit that I had no idea it was based on a novel. When I did find this out, I immediately wanted to read the book that inspired one of my favourite films. It took me a while to get it, but I’m so happy that I’ve read it now.
Diana Wynne Jones’s tale of Howl, Sophie, Michael, and Calcifer was so vastly different from the movie version I had loved that I felt like I was reading something entirely new and yet it was still so familiar. It was a wonderful feeling to crack open the book and find characters that I know and love but in a lot of different situations.
There’s obviously a lot more to the book, which is to be expected, and it added a whole new level of depth to the story that I was accustomed to. We see a lot more of Sophie’s sisters, following their lives once they’ve moved away from the hat shop and fallen in love. We learn more about Sophie’s step-mother and her personality – which I’ll admit always confused me a little in the film. Finally, there’s a whole new sub-plot added with Wizard Suliman and Prince Justin.
Even though I went into this with certain expectations in my head, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest when the story pulled away from these expectations within the first few pages. I was instantly charmed by Jones’s writing and I fell into the story just as easily as the film on my first viewing.
The characters had a lot more spark to them, which I had expected because a movie can’t always portray everything that a writer could. Howl was much more dramatic in the novel, and although it made me like him a little less, it didn’t make me hate him exactly. Michael is older in the novel than the movie and I enjoyed seeing him grow and build his magic skills. Sophie was actually quite similar, if perhaps a bit more crotchety. The only major disappointment I had was that the Witch of the Waste didn’t feature as much in the novel as the film.
I didn’t realise that this story was from the 80’s either! I was quite shocked when I saw that. I definitely think that this could fall into the category of classics. It’s such a beautiful tale of friendship, love, and adventure. I genuinely loved it and am excited that it’s a trilogy because it means that there is more! I highly recommend this to everyone.
About the Author
Diana Wynne Jones was the author of more than thirty critically acclaimed fantasy stories, including the Chrestomanci series and the novels Howl’s Moving Castle andDark Lord of Derkholm.
*Picture and biography from Goodreads