Sophie, being the eldest sister, knew that she would never amount to anything. So when the Witch of the Waste comes into her hat shop and curses her, Sophie leaves behind her family to join Wizard Howl, because being in the presence of another wizard (and fire demon!) might help break the spell.
Why this book?: I loved the movie Howl’s Moving Castle, but out by Studio Ghibli, and when I learned there was a book, I just had to read it.
One thing that I really loved about the movie was how unique and fun it was. Not only that, but you can realistically see the romance build between Sophie and Howl, the characters were all adorable, and Calcifer. While the book had some of these things, whatever was added/lost in translation between book and movie made it hard to enjoy. The book was still fun and unique, but the romance just came out of nowhere, with Sophie hating Howl one moment and them holding hands the next.
I enjoyed this book, and enjoyed the little changes that happened between book and movie. At a certain point, however, there was a divergence between the plots of both, and they became completely different stories. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but, as a general rule, I would prefer understanding what’s going on while reading. Like I mentioned before, the romance came out of nowhere, and I really didn’t see what the point of it was in relation to the curse. But, at about 50 pages until the end, things kept happening with little to no explanation as to the cause. Events were moving too quickly, things that were supposed to be twists made absolutely no sense, and I was just tired.
The characters had less character and felt more like caricatures than anything, and some descriptions were completely different. I’m not trying to complain about differences between the book and movie, but I just don’t understand why some things were changed around. I liked some of the characters better in the book (Michael), but some I preferred the movie version (Calcifer).
Final Rating: ★★★☆☆
Generally, this book would have been a decent book without the comparisons to the movie, but I can’t say that I would raise my rating of it. I was really underwhelmed with what I was expecting, and I still don’t understand what was going on during the ending. The book was also unnecessarily long, when it could have just been a few hundred, instead of 400.
Would I Recommend?
As a starting point, yes. I’ve seen other reviews that say the book is better than the movie, but I just can’t say that for this one. Personally, if you read this one first, maybe you’ll like it more than the movie, but the movie did it better this time.
Published: April ?, 1986
Page Count: 429
Genre: Fantasy/Middle Grade
Synopsis: via Goodreads
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.
2 thoughts on “Review #123 // Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) – Diana Wynne Jones”
I absolutely adore this book because I read it when I was in middle-school, and then watched the movie. I totally agree with you about the last 50 pages, though.
Maybe I should have read it earlier! & The last 50 were so confusing 🙈
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