I talk about this book in this video wrap-up.
This was my first read of 2016, and it was a lovely and enchanting way to start my reading year. Howl's Moving Castle is so much of what I love in books: whimsy, a vivid setting, bright characters and found families.
Wynne Jones' is told in such a clean and straightforward way that it makes the fantastical elements and setting stand out all the more. In turn, the brightness of those elements really help to balance and at times highlight the darker elements of the story. Yes, this book is about a moving castle, a young girl turned old and a moody wizard, but it's set up against a war and curses and imprisonment, both physical and the kind that comes from the expectations of others.
I really loved Sophie as a main character and I loved the way she handles having this curse on her. She kind of just rolls with it, but also uses the costume to her advantage, freeing herself in a way she probably hadn't experience before when she was stuck in a life pre-planned for her. I love that she doesn't take Howl's crap. She cleans and mends and goes about doing what she thinks is right, regardless of his moods. I only ended up liking Howl because he becomes part of Sophie's family, or rather, Sophie becomes part of his. He softens a lot and I can at least appreciate that.
Definitely a recommended read for anyone who likes children's or middle grade fantasy. If you watched the movie and loved it, it would be interesting to read this as well because it is so much MORE. It's more plot, more of the characters and it just makes so much more sense when you have the full story. " Mari said.
"March 26 2011. I just found out Diana Wynne Jones died today. The day I start reading my first book of hers. I don't know much about this author, I'm unfamiliar with her works, but I can feel people's loss, the fans of her writing. And I can still thank her for becoming the well known and loved writer she apparently was. She contribruted to the literary world that I love, and any author who can do this and write amazing fantasical novels earns my respect.
Howl's Moving Castle is a fun, engaging, magical story. It’s unique, kind of strange, but a very enjoyable read. It sounded like the kind of book that I would love, and I did end up loving it. Just one thing, I didn’t think the writing was stellar. It was good, it has a good pacing and is engaging, but it’s not the best writing. I would have liked more emotion in the characters shown through the writing. Aside from this, I loved the rest of the book. Before I read it, I knew that it had been made into an anime movie, which I have not see yet, but as I was reading, I could so picture the story playing out in anime! Now I have to watch the movie :0) But I would like to see the book made into a live action movie, not animated; it could be epic and fantastical. Something like Stardust, maybe, which I love.
The characters were superb. Howl was a hoot, (reminds me of Stanton in The Native Star, or the other way around, which ever you happen to read first I suppose). And oh but do I love Sophie! She’s snappy and stubborn, and acts just like an old lady does, even though she’s really a young woman under a spell. She’s possibly my favorite heroine I’ve read in a book. I loved the interaction between Howl and Sophie, their fighting and bickering. It was funny. I would have liked to have the romance played out. It’s obvious that they end up together at the end, but I would have liked the book more if there was more romance. Which would have been interesting to read, because Sophie’s an ’old’ lady, and Howl is a strapping young man. I would have liked watching Sophie start to fall in love with that insufferable man, but still having her dominant snarky attitude as she denies her feelings because she doesn’t want to like him, (or something like that)… Well, in any case, I still loved the story. I’m excited to read the sequels and have more of Howl and Sophie.
One last thing; I really enjoyed the chapter headings, they amused me :D" Erica (daydreamer) said.
"I don't get what's so great about this book. I found it boring, the characters are meh and tbh how Wynne Jones draws out a storyline over 200 pages when they could cover 100 is completely pointless, and did I mention, boring.
I was interested in the introduction of Sophie and her sisters, but then the Witch of the Waste turns Sophie into a 90-year old lady and it just becomes boring. She joins Howl's Moving Castle and become a "cleaner" there after making a contract with the fire demon that powers the castle, Calcifer. And then, nothing interesting happens for ages - just descriptions of the castle, some banal talk and Howl himself who is just one big drama queen.
Seriously, one of the worst popular books I have ever read. It was just dull. I have no comprehension for the fans of this novel - nothing appeals.
" Tania said.
"This was a charming story. I've never read Diana Wynne Jones before and enjoyed it quite a bit. It reminded me a lot of Neil Gaiman's Stardust (although I did not like that one nearly as much). The character of Sophie Hatter was well done - I liked her wit and her "take no prisioners" attitude.
The supporting case was also good. I particularly liked Calcifier and his interactions with Sophie. As to Howl himself, there was no doubt in my mind his "true self" and I knew from the start where the tale would eventually lead but even with that knowledge I was not disappointed in the book.
The tone of the book was a bit "fairytaleish" to me. Again similar to Gaiman's Stardust. Sophie accepts her new life after her encounter with the Witch of the Waste without flinching, much as Gregor Samson accepts being turned into a cockroach in the Metamorphisis. For some reason this doesn't "sing" to me as much as other styles but even given that I still enjoyed the read - mainly due to the wit and humor which is too often missing from books these days.
I've heard there is a movie though I've never "run across it". I'm interested in watching it now that I've read the book." Robin said.
" What is love? Oh baby, don't hurt me, don't hurt me no more. " Anzu The Great Destroyer said.
" My all-time favourite movie had a book it was based off first?! :O :O :OThis newfound knowledge pleases me immensely. " Saania Zee Jamal ϟ said.
" One of the best fantasies, and a clever mystery besides. Read it, for probably the 10th time, but this time I read it aloud to my 7yo. He loved it, though I did have to explain a few things. I would love a Calcifer of my own. " Jessica said.
"This is the first book that I read to my daughter.
She may not be a captive audience...actually, scrap that. She's still brewing. Still in the womb. She was captive! Captivated, well that's harder to say. The general feedback was wiggles. Her mother reported that she wiggled as I read to her, a chapter a night for the last few weeks. It was either "Hey I like this sound" or "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? STOP TORTURING ME!" I'm assuming it was the former.
This book was chosen because it is one of my wife's favourites. And what better book to read to your child than my wife's favourite. I've been meaning to read it for years, egged on by equal parts nagging and curiosity. And my wife enjoyed my reading "to the baby". And I enjoyed reading "to the baby" too.
The story is a fantasy, not a simple fantasy, but many familiar fantasy tropes turned around, viewed from a skewed angle and reinvented. Howl is an evil wizard who steals young girls souls. Sophie is a cinderella-lite stuck working in a hat shop. Their worlds collide and you meet many wonderful characters and there are many twists and turns. The book is enjoyable and it has a strong female lead. This is a book you'd want to read to your daughter. The daughters who are not princesses and don't put up with that kind of bullshit.
So this book is wonderful, but it will hold many wonderful memories. It will be reread often I feel. Until nest time. When she is in my arms." Brendon Schrodinger said.