Thursday, December 8, 2011

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle (Castle, #1)Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
Evan’s ESS = 8 out of 10
Erin’s ESS =  out of 10
Content = PG (Minor Adult Content, Name Calling, Mild Violence, Premature Aging, Relentless Scarecrows)

“If I give you a hint and tell you it’s a hint, it will be information, and I’m not allowed to give that.”

“I assure you, my friends, I am cone sold stober.”

“You have no right to make jigsaws of people.”

Why: Rarely do we include three quotes in one review, although rarely have so many good lines appeared in one book. It was literally impossible to pick one... or even two.

Just as Sophie Hatter (no relation to the gentleman from Alice in Wonderland) has resigned herself to an uneventful career as hat maker, something remarkable happens. A surprise visit from the Witch of the Waste leaves Sophie transformed into an arthritic, old woman. On a whim, she decides to seek help at the infamous moving castle on the edge of town. What our young... er old heroine finds behind the castle door is nothing close to what she expected, although maybe that’s a good thing. Or is it...

The primary reason this novel works so well is the brilliant array of characters. Howl himself is probably best described by manipulating the lyrics to the chorus of a popular song:


He’s hot then he’s cold.
He’s yes then he’s no.
He’s in and he’s out.
He’s up and he’s down.

In the highly unlikely case that the previous illustration missed its mark, we’ll just say his personality is all over the map and super fun to read about! Furthermore, many of the characters in this novel are delightfully unique, yet provided a nice balance when all their eccentricities were displayed together.

The setting was vivid and easily a top destination place for our next vacation. The town of Market Chippings felt right out of a fairy tale and Howl’s moving castle was filled with surprises (and a fair amount of bedlam). Honestly, it would take an entire book to explore all the various aspects of the castle. For instance, the front door has the ability to open in 4 different locations. There are also some really impressive inventions around the castle, like seven league books, which allow the wearer to walk 21 miles with each step.

Overall, Howl’s Moving Castle was an easy and enjoyable read. The plot kept us guessing and the dialogue kept us laughing. However... the Academy Award nominated movie left much to be desired. Admittedly, we fell asleep shortly after the scarecrow part, so maybe things improved. We’re going to need some quality persuading to give it a second try...


  1. *gasp* How could you not love a Miyazaki film?!

    I really, really love both the book and the film and have a mild obsession with it. I've actually got the graphic novel (made from movie stills) in Japanese, so I'll probably never be able to read it fluently (and without my handy dictionary) but I couldn't not have it!

  2. I loved this book sooo much! While I'm a huge Miyazaki fan, I agree with your sentiments about the film. I think if I had given myself time between reading the book and watching the movie I would have liked the film more. Great review!

  3. Kayleigh,
    Fine... I'll give the movie a second go. Maybe I was in a bad mood or extra sleepy.

    I really did enjoy the book. I've heard there are 2 more books in the series. Both will be high on my 2012 reading list!

  4. I have a blind spot when it comes to Miyazaki films, he could animate TV static and I'd love it and watch it over and over again! Well, that's a little extreme but what I'm trying to say is if you didn't like the film, don't take my gushy love letter to Miyazaki as anything other than what it is! Unless you really do want to rewatch it, then definitely do give it a go.

    Also, the other books in the series are a lot of fun (and definitely worth a read) but don't come close to the marvelousness (is that a word?!) of the original.