Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Howl's Moving Castle Review (Diana Wynne Jones)

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl - and herself - than first meets the eye.

In many ways, I'm glad I read House of Many Ways before I read Howl's Moving Castle. It gave me an opportunity to decide which characters I really wanted to get to know in this one. Who wins? Well, Calcifer is still my favorite. He's even more adorable (as adorable as a fire demon can be, and he really is quite an adorable one) and hilarious than in House of Many Ways. Yes, Calcifer will always be my favorite.

But I love the other characters almost as much as he. Howl is one of the funniest "cowards" I've ever known in the Literary World. I'm not one for dashing, roguish characters - it is my sound opinion that they ought to have a firm grandmother always watching their every action. Apparently, Sophie shared my exact opinion, and it made me bear Howl better because he spent more time being pathetic (the episode with the cold had me laughing very hard) than roguish and dashing due to the fact that Sophie wouldn't put up with it. And Howl really isn't all that roguish and dashing - he's brave and honorable, even if he denies it.

Sophie is a wonderful character! Never have I been so fond of a main female character. She spends none of her time bemoaning her fate, or really even complaining. She gets down to business and won't hear any lip from anyone else about it. Even her nosiness - which usually irritates me in a character because it brings them into stupid situations - didn't bother me. When her curiosity does bring her into a bad situation, she admits that it was her fault and deals with it. Sophie is a very practical person; I rather wish I could be like her, save for, maybe, the temper.

Which brings me to another point: normally the whole scenario of two people arguing who really love each other, but argue and pick because they don't want to admit that they love each other, really, really irritates me. It's not funny; it's just annoying, and makes both characters pretty irksome. Even unlikeable. But Sophie and Howl's bickerings were somehow different. Maybe because the whole "I-love-you-but-won't-admit-it" theme was pretty much missing. No surprise, Sophie and Howl do end up marrying, but their bickerings are part of their character - not something that started happening just because they were denying their own feelings. And also, both handle the other's bad tempers pretty well! Sophie chides Howl or ignores him (the latter mostly) when he starts pouting, and Howl just gently teases Sophie or leaves her alone when she is angry. Howl is also a "slitherer-outer" - as Sophie calls him, - so he doesn't seem to pursue an argument for very long.

I really did enjoy this book. Like House of Many Ways, it has a lot of the same Victorian-ish humor; poking fun at itself and taking cliche myths and housewife sayings and turning them real, making for very hilarious situations. As I said in my review for House of Many Ways, any story that can make an inanimate object a lovable character (in this case, a skull and a scarecrow) is definitely worth reading.
There's apparently a third book - Castle in the Air - and I'm going to read it. But like House of Many Ways, Howl's Moving Castle can also work as a stand-alone book. But I guarantee you that after reading it, you'll want to read the others.
Star Rating: 4/5 (really liked it)

Others in This Trilogy:
1)Howl's Moving Castle
2)Castle in the Air
3)House of Many Ways


  1. I think I'll check this out at our library.

  2. My friend has the movie of it? But I've never seen it.

  3. I wouldn't advise seeing the movie until you've read the book. It's not nearly as good. Howl is completely wrong in it.

  4. There is a chance you're qualified to receive a $300 Ikea Gift Card.


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