Magical Mix-Ups, Mistakes, and Hi-jinx

2:40 PM

Summary of Howl's Moving Castle
Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters and so believes she is doomed to fail if she should ever leave home for an adventure. While toiling away in her stepmother's hat shop, Sophie unknowingly makes an enemy out of the Witch of the Waste, an evil witch whose territory no one dares enter. Sophie soon finds herself under a spell which turns her into an old lady. On the road to visit one of her sisters, Sophie discovers her frail, old body won't carry her to her destination before dark. About to resign herself to sleeping on the side of the road, Sophie spots the puffing chimneys of Howl's moving castle and decides to seek shelter there despite the rumors its owner is heartless.

Determined to break the enchantment which has transformed her into an old woman, Sophie strikes a deal with a fire demon who promises her that he will break the spell in exchange for freeing him from his chimney prison. While handling the heartless Howl and trying to unravel the clues leading to both her and the fire demon's freedom, Sophie begins to realize there's more to herself, and Howl, than meets the eye.

Review of Howl's Moving Castle
I'd seen Howl's Moving Castle on several different lists of best fantasy books, but, for whatever reason, I didn't pick it up when I was younger. I am so glad I've finally read it! Though the book had more of a children's type feel to it, rather than YA, I devoured the book and found the characters to be endearing and the plot highly enjoyable. Overall, the book reminded me a bit of Gail Carson Levine's writing (one of my favorite authors when I was growing up).

Sophie and Howl were my two absolute favorite characters in this book with Calcifer, the fire demon, running a close third. At the beginning of the book, Sophie believes that she's nobody special and sort of plods through life doing as she's told. Once she's turned into an old woman, she discovers she has a backbone and enjoys flexing it. I loved watching Sophie become a powerful, young (though still old in her physical appearance) woman who meets adventure head on. Howl also develops as a character as the story progresses. Dressed in flamboyant suits and constantly wooing young ladies until they've fallen in love with him, whereby he quickly moves on to the next girl, Howl definitely doesn't make a good first impression. He is a character which you will grow to love by the end of the book. Finally, Calcifer (whose name I love) seems to be a grumpy fire demon but is really an old softy at heart. Author Diana Wynne Jones crafted some wonderful characters who will remain dear to my heart.

So, if you're looking for a book with memorable characters in a land where magical mix-ups, mistakes, and hi-jinx are all part of a day's work, read Howl's Moving Castle. I'm confident you'll be glad you did.

Now that I've read the book, I'll be sure to check out the film version as well which has also been highly recommended.

Up Next

The next book up for review is The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean.

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