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Howl's Moving Castle: 08/29/08

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones (1986) is a delightful fantasy story full of spells, political intrigue and interesting characters. It was adapted into a wonderful film directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 2004.

Sophie Hatter one day finds herself bewitched into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste. Having no one else to turn to, she decides to seek out the Wizard Howl who was "known to amuse himself by collecting young girls and sucking the souls from them." (page 4)

As with many of Diana Wynne Jones's books, Sophie is left in the dark about much of the political situation that her apparently reluctant hosts, Howl and his apprentice Michael, are part of. Nonetheless, by her own proximity to them, she is pulled deeper and deeper into the fight for Ingary being launched by the Witch of the Waste. She must also sort through the complicated relationship of Howl and the demon who moves the castle, Calcifer. Through a combination of stubborn determination, hard work and dumb luck, Sophie succeeds in often times unexpected ways.

I came to this book both as a fan of Diana Wynne Jones and of the Miazaki film, I was pleased to recognize the film in the book. Yes, there are differences but the spirit of the book was translated into the film. The novel and the film feel like coherent entity expressed in different media.

There is a sequel to the novel called Castle in the Air (which is hinted at in closing credits of the film).

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Monday, September 01, 2008 at 05:31:57


I really must get around to reading this and watching the film. I really enjoyed Fire and Hemlock by her and hope to read more soon.

Comment #2: Monday, September 01, 2008 at 22:55:15

Pussreboots says:

Both are wonderful. I've yet to read a book by Diana Wynn Jones that I haven't enjoyed.

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