Posted by: Ms. Matson | January 11, 2010

Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones
New York: Greenwillow Books, 2008
Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Interest level: upper elementary
AR level: 5.4

From the back cover:

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 was first introduced to Howl through Miyazaki’s wonderful animated film.  It was some time after seeing the movie that I learned that it was based on Jones’s book.  Then I decided to get myself a copy and read it.

I was not very interested in the book at first.  It started off very similar to the movie, so nothing was new.  That’s the thing about seeing a movie first.  The scenes and way characters look have been decided for you so that when you do read the text, your imagination doesn’t have as much fun.  However, about half-way through the book the story diverged from the movie in significant ways.  The basic plot is similar (Howl and Sophie each have a curse which they must deal with), but the details become quite different.  Now I wanted to know what happened.

Howl’s Moving Castle is very unlike any fantasy I’ve ever read.  It seems a bit meandering and, as odd as it may sound for a fantasy story, rather down to earth.  By that I mean that the story happens very naturally and matter-of-factly.  If books had a temperament, Howl’s Moving Castle would be very mild.  It is not action-packed, but this is its charm.  As Sophie and Howl slowly get acquainted with each other, so do we.  Aside from the two leads, I loved Calcifer, the fire demon.  He’s such a funny character.  It seems perfectly normal for him to reside in the fireplace as the force that moves the castle and the fire over which breakfast is cooked, all while he converses with Sophie.

I recommend Howl’s Moving Castle to those who enjoy quirky and light-hearted fantasy (the movie is a bit darker).  It will probably appeal more to the average girl than boy.  Read the book, but see to movie also!

This book marks one off the TwentyTen Challenge in the Shiny & New category.



  1. […] Beth (The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte)22. Gladsome Lights (The Architecture of Happiness)23. teachergirl (Howl’s Moving Castle)24. Anne (In the Beginning Was the Word)25. Framed (Atonement)26. Framed (Cage of Stars)27. Framed […]

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