Thursday, December 15, 2011
REVIEW: "Howl's Moving Castle" by Diana Wynne Jones
Type: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Witches, and Wizards, oh my!, Demons
About the book: 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.
Review: After reading this... I can definitely see why this book would be listed as one of someone's all-time favorites. It really was an excellent story, I have no clue why it took me this long to pick this book up and read it. But "Howl's Moving Castle" came at a great time for me. I was reading the emotional roller coaster known as "The Hunger Games" yet again, this time for a book club at work, and I needed something fantastical, something lighter, like this. There is great adventure to be had in this book, and it was just what I, and maybe even you!, needed.
Sophie is fascinating. She's sure she won't get a happy ending because she's the oldest daughter, and in fairy tales, the oldest never gets a Happily Ever After. So when the Witch turns her into an old woman, she decides to screw the stories and head out for adventure. Well, that, and she's hoping the crazy, mad, possibly evil wizard in the moving castle will be able to change her back.
The moving castle was one of my favorite parts. I love the idea that one door could open to so many different places. In my copy of the book, there was an interview with the author, and she mentioned her idea behind this door. She said just because the door to your bedroom has always opened into your bedroom before, doesn't mean you can't suddenly open it, and be facing something entirely different. She even mentioned leaving most of the doors in her home slightly ajar so the room doesn't disappear on her.
The characters were truly charming, even the grumpy ones. Michael, Howl's apprentice, was adorable.. and really felt his age - even the way he dutifully cared for Howl and Calcifer. And oh, Calcifer. Despite the fact that he was a demon and played up his grumpiness, you could tell he truly cared for Sophie.. and indeed everyone else as well. He was one of my chief comic amusements in this story.. well, him and Howl. There aren't enough words to properly describe Howl. Fantasy novels have certain conventions - an old wizard, wise beyond his years, bearded and fierce, yet gentle and kindly when they need to be. And then Howl comes along... he's young, vain, a coward.. at least 2 plus hours of his day are spent in the bathroom making himself look handsome. Despite Howl's many, many faults, his sense of humor and slitheriness (Sophie's word) is classic, and even lovable.
The anime movie based on this novel won several awards, and I'm eager to see how the two compare. Usually I try not to watch a movie too soon after I've read a book, because I will automatically dislike the movie.. so I'm trying to hold off as long as possible. But my love for this story is so great, I'm not sure I can hold it off much longer!
Cover Lovin': I loved it! There are several different covers for this book.. the original, later reprints, and even movie tie-in covers, and every one that I've seen looks wonderful.
Recommendation: For readers young and old, this is a fantasy tale that quickly moved to the top of my all time favorites list, and I'm sure it will for you as well!
Final Rating: FIVE out of FIVE (5/5)! I loved it, I practically inhaled it, reading it all in one sitting.. it was wonderful. Great story, great characters... and hopefully great movie, I'll see soon enough!
Have you read "Howl's Moving Castle"? Share your thoughts in the comments! Want to purchase a copy of your own? Get it from Amazon.com!
~!~ Amanda ~!~