Soh Kam Yung's Reviews > Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
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's review
Aug 30, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: sf-and-fantasy
Read from August 26 to 30, 2012

A marvelous journey into a fairy-tale like world that murders fairy-tale conventions. Sophie Hatter, the eldest of three sisters is expected to come to a bad end, while the other two are expected to either be married or to make their fortune, fairy-tale style.

But it all goes wrong when the two younger sisters don't agree with their fates and the eldest gets an unexpected visit from the Witch of the Waste, who turns Sophie old. This causes Sophie to go on an adventure to break the spell, ending up with the Wizard Howl in his moving castle, powered by the fire demon, Calcifer.

But fairy-tale conventions win out in the end as the Witch is dispatched, a missing wizard and prince are found and Sophie and her sisters and mother all get a happy ending.

It is interesting to compare and contrast the book with the animated version produced by Studio Ghibli (see this Wikipedia entry on the movie). Elements of the book are present in the feature, sometimes altered while others are left out. Absent is Howl's real past and the real reason the Witch of the Waste wants him. One part that probably could have been in the feature is a section where Sophie and Michael (Markl in the feature) cast an enlarging spell on Howl's dress...with hilarious effect.

The back of this version of the book includes interviews with Diana Wynne Jones, where she talks about some of the ideas in the book, and her thoughts on the Studio Ghibli version of her book.

So, it was fun romp in a fantasy world, with a strange and unusual connection with our own.

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