As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

April 19, 2012

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, by Diana Wynne Jones, 1986

Sophie lived in the town of Market Chipping, which was in Ingary, a land in which anything could happen, and often did--especially when the Witch of the Waste got her dander up. Which was often. As her younger sisters set out to seek their fortunes Sophie stayed in her father's hat shop. Which proved most unadventurous, until the Witch of the Waste came in to buy a bonnet, but was not pleased. Which is why she turned Sophie into an old lady. Which was spiteful witchery. Now Sophie must seek her own fortune. Which means striking a bargain with the lecherous Wizard Howl. Which means entering his ever-moving castle, taming a blue fire-demon, and meeting the Witch of the Waste head-on. (Goodreads)

Once in a while we receive reviews of the same book from two people, so we're including both reviews here:

Review by Mattie Noall; Avid reader, Mother of 6, and Aspiring author.

This book was recommended by the author Jessica Day George. I read the entire series which starts with the moving castle. The other two books are Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways. I liked the first book first. It has a lot of fun twists and turns. I would love to have a house that could be in four places at once, it would make traveling a lot easier.

Sophie is my favorite character. She has enough spunk and force to really drive the story. I like that she is some what of a witch without knowing it. That makes her humble unlike Howl. I know I would feel like Sophie in Howl's house. I would probably clean up too. I also like Calcifer. It is fun to have a fire that is alive but then again, what else would I expect out of a wizard's house.

The ending was a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect the Witch of the Waste's fire demon to be who it was. I also thought that Howl would end up with Sophie's sister, Lettie. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy with a fun twist.


Review by Emily, high school student and bibliophile

I'm not sure where I picked this book up, or how I came to read it. I vaguely remember reading something about an oldest sister who went off to have adventures on the back cover, but that is about all that I remember about that.
Because the story instantly transported me to the strangest world I think I've ever seen. In Ingary, "where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist", even commonplace items like fires and scarecrows are given fantastical life. It's a place where eldest sisters are rather neglected. Sophie Hatter is one such elder sister, and she is about to fade into obscurity in the back of a dusty little hat shop - but for the day that she decides to go visit her sister.

You see, when she comes back from that most alarming trip, she finds that a wicked witch has invaded her hat shop. Slightly angry and more frightened, she talks back to the woman and ends up saddled with a remarkable curse. The only one powerful enough to save her from this curse is the wizard Howl, who is reputed to eat young lady's hearts, and who has an alarmingly black and smoke-wreathed castle . . . that moves.

But Sophie turns out to be fearless when forced to rise to the occasion. Her exploits amaze and amuse as the story progresses. She makes a wonderfully grumpy main character, and I love her for it. I think that if I could meet her, I would want desperately to be her friend.

Hidden in all its twisty plots, this book has a furtive sense of humor that sneaks up on the reader. It also has some weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and copious amounts of green slime. And I love it all.

Young adult fiction.
Language: None.
Sensuality: Some. Howl is always after girls to love them then leave them.
Violence: Mild. There are a couple of magical fights. The Witch kills someone.
Mature Themes: Death, love, vanity.

Book formats:


Erin Shakespear said...

Oh, I love Diana Wynne Jones with a deep and burning passion. And Howl's Moving Castle is one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE me some Wizard Howl. And Sophie and Calcifer are wonderful too (Oh, but that HOWL!). What a great book! I like the other books in the series, but this one is my fave. Has anyone seen the movie? It's pretty terrific. The book's better, of course, but the movie is still loads of fun.

MKHutchins said...

I *love* the movie. One of my favorite films, hands-down. If I were on a long car trip right now, I would quote long strings of it! I did happen to see the movie I came to the book with a set of expectations that didn't quite gel. So, if you've never read/seen either, grab the book, then watch the movie. They're actually fairly different.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love Howl's Moving Castle! It has such a sense of humor! The movie is fairly good, but having read the book first I like the book better. And it's not just for girls, either: my brother really enjoyed it.