Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

Howl’s Moving Castle

with one comment

By Diana Wynne Jones
Psst- get ME a copy, too!! Amazon.com
Rating: Fantastic!
Read: June 2005

I’m a fan of Studio Ghibli, famous for the films Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Their latest creation is an adaption of Howl’s Moving Castle. I got a copy at the library and now I’m even MORE psyched to go see the movie.


The story centers around Sophie Hatter, a young wman of 18 who is the oldest three sister, and, according to fairy tale rules, is destined to bad luck and a mediocre existence. Her sisters go off to seek their fortunes, but Sophie is resigned to the simple life of a hatter… until the Witch of the Waste comes looking for hats and places a curse on Sophie: She becomes an old woman. Figuring she has nothing to lose, and not wanting to face her family who will not recognize her, Sophie goes to seek her own fortune.

She winds up in the home of the dread Wizard Howl, said to eat the hearts of young women. Sophie reasons that she has nothing to fear if she is an OLD woman, and sets about proving herself useful has a housekeeper. She upsets the routine of the castle’s occupants- the fire demon Calcifer who powers the moving castle, Howl’s apprentice Micheal (who is 15, not 5 as the movie shows), and Howl himself. (Clean if you must, but do no kill one single spider, do you hear me, Sophie?) Sophie finds that the fears and shyness she had as a girl disappear when she is an old woman, and she proves herself to be quite ballsy and resourceful- if still clumsy.

Howl himself is one of the coolest anti-heroes I’ve seen in a long while. He’s vain, a tease, and a “slitherer-outter.” He doesn’t physically eat hearts- he makes women fall in love with him… until something goes wrong and he bails, looking for some other heart to woo. He’s also sloppy with spells, but a meticulous teacher of Micheal. He rags on everyone for being useless and does silly things to get attention (While having a cold: I may be DYING! *COUGHCOUGHCOUGH*), but as time passes, we see more and more of his nicer qualities. I am already half in love with him and his deserved self-deprecation; I suspect that when his blond self is voiced by Christian Bale, I will become a happy puddle of Howl-loving goo.

*ahem* There are, of course, greater threads running through. The Witch of the Waste has a curse on Howl that will come to fruition at Midsummer. Calcifer and Howl have a contract that neither particularly likes, and Calcifer promises Sophie he will help to lift her curse if she helps free him from the contract. The King’s brother and his Royal Wizard have gone missing, and the King is looking to make Howl the new Royal Wizard and send him looking for them- which Howl does not want to do, being a coward and not liking responsibility much.

As a book, it’s wonderful. I highly reccomend it, and beg anyone who loves me to show me so by getting me a copy. 😉 From the previews, it looks like the movie has trimmed down significantly, as usual, but the spirit has remained. Better: It’s even more romantic.

Cue one Howl-Loving Puddle of Goo.

GO READ IT!!

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Written by Shen

June 30, 2005 at 5:15 pm

One Response

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  1. […] really for kids. I wasn’t as interested in these as I was with Jones’ other books (Howl’s Moving Castle? J’adore). These two books are both about very young boys (between the ages of 7 and 12). […]


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