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Book versus Movie: Howl’s Moving Castle

Book versus Movie: Howl’s Moving Castle post image

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.

howls moving castle movieOne 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.

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  • Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm September 29, 2011, 11:02 am

    I thought the movie was pretty good. I honestly didn’t realize it was based on a DWJ book. Lots of people keep recommending her books to me–might have to give this a shot!

    • Kim September 29, 2011, 8:18 pm

      I didn’t know it was a movie until Boyfriend asked me about the book when it was sitting on my desk. Diana Wynne Jones writes some really awesome fantasy books — I’d definitely recommend giving her a try.

  • Heather Pearson September 29, 2011, 11:55 am

    Howl’s Moving Castle is sitting on daughter’s bookshelf, now why haven’t I read it??? will have to search it out, thanks for the reminder.

    • Kim September 29, 2011, 8:19 pm

      It’s a pretty quick read, and even if I was en enchanted with it, it was still good. I hope you like it!

  • Trisha September 29, 2011, 3:04 pm

    I’ve seen the first 20 minutes or so of the movie, but then the DVR recording just stopped for some unknown reason. I’ll have to rent it someday….

    • Kim September 29, 2011, 8:28 pm

      That’s lame! Rent the movie and check it out; I really liked it.

  • Jenny September 29, 2011, 6:21 pm

    I didn’t love the book the first time I read it, but it’s so fun for me to return to later. Howl is one of my favorite DWJ characters ever — I wouldn’t marry him (obv) but I think he would be fun to know.

    • Kim September 29, 2011, 8:30 pm

      I think it would be a fun book to revisit, with all the riddles and everything. I like knowing what’s happening so I can watch for all the hints an author leaves. Howl was a lot of fun too, even if he’d be a frustrating romantic partner 🙂

  • Hannah September 29, 2011, 11:19 pm

    Howl’s Moving Castle is one of my favorite books. I’m waiting for another of Dianne Wynne Jones to equal it in awesomeness but The House of Many Ways wasn’t as good and that’s the only other one of hers that I’ve read. Maybe the movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle is just the DWJ fix I need.

    • Kim October 2, 2011, 9:42 am

      I looked up the books after this one, but they didn’t see quite as good as this one. I have some other DWJ books I want to read first 🙂

  • Vasilly September 30, 2011, 10:37 am

    Kim, you’re adding more books to my tbr list! 🙂 This sounds like a great book. My daughter and I are finishing up Holes by Louis Sachar before watching the movie version of it this weekend. Howl’s Moving Castle sounds like it would be a great book for us to read together. Thanks for putting this on my radar.

    • Kim October 2, 2011, 9:44 am

      I still haven’t seen the movie version of Holes, even though I loved the book! I must remedy that one. I think this would be a fun one to read and watch together.

  • Pam October 1, 2011, 5:36 pm

    This is one of my daughter’s favorite movies. I’m not sure she knew it was a book. I’ll definitely have to let her know that!

    • Kim October 2, 2011, 9:44 am

      Definitely! It’d be interesting to hear what someone who saw the movie first thought of the book. Plot-wise, the book is definitely more complex.

  • tolmsted (BookSexy Review) October 1, 2011, 9:57 pm

    Kim, I loved the movie and had no idea it was also a book. Now I’ll have to find it.

    If you enjoyed Howl’s Moving Castle, you should check out Ponyo, another Hayao Miyazaki animated film. And did you know there’s a whole amusement park dedicated to him in Japan?


    • Kim October 2, 2011, 9:45 am

      Yes, Ponyo is amazing! Boyfriend and I saw that in the theater and I just loved it. I did not know about the theme park — wow!

  • Kristen M. October 4, 2011, 1:16 am

    This movie actually started me reading Diana Wynne Jones. Now I have read lots and lots of her books but this is still a favorite. I don’t think the book and movie should be compared much because they are so different but luckily equally good in their own ways! And I fell in love with the movie almost immediately because one of my recurring dreams is walking through the air just like Howl and Sophie do at the beginning. 🙂

    • Kim October 6, 2011, 6:09 am

      That’s cool! They are definitely different, but I did like comparing the changes the movie made when compared to the book — they were interesting choices. The opening walking on air sequence is AWESOME.

  • quirky girls read-jehara October 10, 2011, 5:24 am

    I LOVE this movie. When it first came out I didn’t realize it was based on a book. I still haven’t read it though. I have had it on hold at the library since forever but it never seems to become available. Now I want to watch the movie again.

    • Kim October 16, 2011, 10:54 am

      I didn’t know the book was a movie until the boyfriend mentioned it. I think we’ll watch the movie again eventually — it was awesome.