I watched the movie, Howl's Moving Castle [US] [UK], directed by Hayao Miyazaki, when I was going through my anime phase, not to mention I'm pretty much always going through a Christian Bale phase. I loved it, of course, it was so odd and just plain weird, exactly why I enjoy anime so much.
This was quite a while ago, and it wasn't until just recently that I started reading reviews of the book by Diana Wynne Jones, so I ordered it right away. And, because my "to read" pile is enormous, it sat on my shelf for another couple months.
So, to end this terribly interesting story, I somehow got into this "read the book after having already seen the movie because I had no idea there was a book to read" phase (see Stardust) and it was excellent.
The moral of this riveting story: don't wait, just read, you won't be disappointed.
Sophie is the eldest of three sisters and of course not much is expected of the eldest. She gets on the wrong side of the Witch of the Waste and is cursed to look 90 years old. She doesn't know what to do other than to leave her house without scaring her family and head into town. Not knowing what to do or who to go to, she continues heading outside of town and ends up walking to Howl's moving castle.
Howl's known for stealing little girls away, but she figures that's no longer her problem, she's old now...and who better to help her out than a wizard.
This really is such an endearing tale, I enjoyed the characters so much and I'm excited to have also found out that there are two more books to follow. I know, it sometimes baffles me how much I can enjoy these middle-grade books.
And because it's a middle-grade book, the writing is perfectly simplistic. It's told in third person, but from the perspective of Sophie, an adolescent. Howl's Moving Castle is so hard to put down, Sophie bumbles from problems with her curse to problems with the fickle Howl, who, as Sophie calls him, is a slitherer-outer, one who slithers out of doing anything.
On top of that, the magic is different than anything I've seen. It's so odd and quirky, it's so fun to read. For instance, the moving castle is also connected to two different places, Porthaven and Kingsbury. As long as the correct color is lined up on the door, you can connect to the requisite city or place. Then there's all the oddity that is Howl always chasing after different women, Calsifer (the devious fire demon), and Michael (Howl's apprentice).
When to Read Howl's Moving Castle?
This is perfect for a light reading mood. Howl's Moving Castle is full of magic and humor and great characters that are tons of fun to read about. Make sure to have some time on your hands because you won't be able to put it down.
4 out of 5 Stars (Loved it)
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