Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: Howl's Moving Castle

Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Publication Date: 1986
Genre: YA Fantasy
Copy provided by: Myself - bought at HPB
Summary (via Goodreads):

In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.

After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.

The Hatter sisters —Sophie, Lettie, and Martha —and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.

In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl's castle?

Diana Wynne Jones's entrancing fantasy is filled with surprises at every turn, but when the final stormy duel between the Witch and the Wizard is finished, all the pieces fall magically into place.

Why I read this: When I heard that the amazing Diana Wynne Jones had passed, I decided it was time to read the books I had been meaning to for some time. And this was one of them. I loved the animated movie and figured the book would be even better.

Plot: Sophie is definitely not the luckiest girl. In fact, she doesn't seem all that mad when she gets turned into an old woman. Then she ends up in the incredible moving castle of Howl, a supposedly evil wizard who steals away and kills young maidens. But there's more behind Howl and the reason his castle is floating. I really can't say too much about this plot other than it is absolutely magical. I just loved it.

Characters: Howl is possibly the most interesting character I've read in a long time. He's quirky and moody and seems not all together there. Sophie herself makes an interesting old woman and it's her voice that we view the book through. I just love all of Jones' characters. They're so unique and wonderful, even the bad ones.

Relatability: Fans of high fantasy with well-developed characters will be begging for more of her books after reading this one. For such a long book it read rather fast as well.

Cover Commentary: There's so many covers of this book, it's insane. I really quite like the one I have. It's a bit brighter than some of the others. Not sure if that's how I quite pictured the castle though.

Rating: 5/5 Roses

Find it on Goodreads

post signature


  1. I haven't read this in yeeeeaars, but I have seen the movie a lot, and recently. One funny thing: I have a feeling that I'm going to look a lot like Grandma Sophie when I'm old. Hopefully I'll be a little taller, though.
    It's always sad to lose a loved author. I like her zaney characters and elaborate plots.
    I've been meaning to reread this one because i like the book's Howl more than the Movie's Howl. I'll move it up my TBR after Easter.
    Nice review!

  2. I love the movie, too. My YA book club read the first book of the Chrestomanci series and were not wowed by it; I thought it slow but classic and I'll definitely read the rest of that series this summer.

    Thanks for the review! I have that exact cover in a stack of donation books for Book by Book... hmm... I think I'll give them the cash and keep the book :D

  3. I really need to read this one. Everyone I know who's read it seems to say the same things: Howl is awesome, and the story is magical. I don't know why I've put it off.

  4. There are two more books with Sophie and Howl. They may not be the main characters though. They are the House of Many Ways and Castle in the Air. I loved this book. I still need to read the other two. I own them, just need to get to them.

  5. I first saw the movie version and loved the entire story. I figured I should read the book and I did and I loved it. Jones created an entire world that I want to live in. Who wouldn't?

    I recently read another book, The Amaranth Charm by Julie Berry, that reminded me a lot of Howl's Moving Castle. If you liked Howl, I think you'll like Amaranth.

  6. I have this one waiting to be read. I really need to get to it! I don't know that I've ever heard someone say they didn't like it. Nice review! :)


Leave some love!