I grabbed Howl’s Moving Castle during one of my first visits to my new local library while I was testing out the depth of their shared catalog. I love Diana Wynne Jones, so checking another book off her extensive backlist felt like a victory.
Sophie Hatter is the oldest of three sisters, and she’s convinced that, as the oldest sister, she’ll never do anything great because — as fairy tales go — the oldest sister is never the hero. Sophie has resigned herself to the fact that she’ll have an ordinary life… until she gets turned into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste. And in a tricky addendum, Sophie cannot tell anyone about the curse. Mean! Sophie sets off to meet the great and terrifying wizard Howl — who, as the title suggest, lives in a moving castle — to see if she can find a way to be changed back.
There’s more to the story then that — other wizards, a fire demon, riddles and mysteries — but that’s the gist. As much as that premise sounds awesome, I didn’t love this book as much as I expected that I would. Sophie was a wonderful narrator, and I loved many of the other characters. However, I just didn’t feel like a lot of what happened near the end of the book felt concluding… I was confused. I may have just been reading too fast and that’s why I missed a lot of stuff, I’m not really sure. I’ll say I liked reading the book, but I didn’t love it more than other books in Wynne Jones’ repertoire.
One fun thing about reading the book was that Boyfriend and I also watched the movie together afterwards because he is a big fan of the director, Hayao Miyazaki. The movie took a really different emphasis than the book, really playing up the romance between Sophie and Howl. It also simplified some of the background characters and their stories, which helped. I also think that the reveal about Sophie and the spell that made her old played better visually than it did in the book, which was cool. I would definitely suggest checking out the movie… if only because Miyazaki has such a beautiful style that the movie is amazingly appealing.