Cassie's Reviews > Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
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May 04, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: fairytale, ya-fantasy, bookwyrm_chrysalis_reviews
Read in April, 2008

This is definitely one of those books that I enjoy more and more every time I read it. I always have a memory of how rushed the ending is, and I still think it’s pretty rushed, but I think I understood the book quite a bit more this time. The book builds to a climax, but the actual final battle barely seems to take up many pages and then we have a few pages to wrap up all the plots, via the narrator pointing out various things the audience didn’t know yet.

The complexity of Jones’s writing is one of her greatest skills as an author, but also leads to confusion. Every page of Howl’s Moving Castle is thick with hidden meanings, truths that will be revealed later, and she rarely tells you something that doesn’t have some future meaning. From Sophie’s seemingly unrelated days in the hat shop where she talks to hats as she works to the dog she saves from a bush. Nothing is without meaning. I highly recommend reading this book at least twice to truly understand it.

Howl’s curse still confuses me, no matter how many times I read it. It seems like Jones really liked a poem and thought it would make a good magic curse, so she makes the Witch of the Waste use it as a curse on Howl, but then the curse elements just seem to come true a bit random. Some of the pieces of the curse/poem are instigated by Sophie, but they still don’t quite make sense to me. There’s a sense of “why” missing. The rest of the book though is so wonderful and interesting that I’m willing to put aside my issues with the curse and just assume I’m not getting something.

Pacing seems to be the key to why I have to keep rereading the book. I love the depth of the plot, but Jones keeps such a fast pace, typically telling more than showing, so that I sometimes find myself becoming lost as I try to figure out which are the most important elements. On the second reading though, I already know the basic plot points, so I can enjoy the ride. It’s also important in all three books to know who might be disguised or cursed into a different form.

The newest release of this book includes an interview with Diana Wynne Jones, and I found it pretty interesting. Something I especially liked was how she talks about how many girls want to marry Howl. She tries to tell them they wouldn’t want to live with someone who drips slime whenever his hair color goes wrong, but they see it as a challenge. Personally, while I think Howl is adorable in that “yeah, as long as I don’t have to deal with him…” sort of way, I think only Sophie can really handle him on a day-to-day basis.

Read the rest of the review at Bookwyrm Chrysalis :: YA Fantasy Book Reviews.
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message 1: by Nic (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nic *Bragging ahead, but I swear it's relevant* I got to have tea with DWJ last summer (combination of fan letters, a study-abroad program in Bath, England, and her being really really nice), and she said that younger women, twenties and under, tend to fancy Howl, while the older ones often fancy Chrestomanci. (Christopher Chant, I'm sure.) Interesting . . .

She also didn't like the movie adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle much more than I did, but then, I wanted it to be about as faithful to the book as the BBC "Pride and Prejudice." :P


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