Review: Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones

January 26, 2015 Review 40 ★★★★½

Review: Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Pages: 302
Release Date: March 5th 2009
Series: Howl's Moving Castle #1
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Young Adult
"How about making a bargain with me?" said the demon. "I'll break your spell if you agree to break this contact I'm under."

In the land of Ingary, where seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, Sophie Hatter attracts the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste, who puts a curse on her. Determined to make the best of things, Sophie travels to the one place where she might get help - the moving castle which hovers on the nearby hills.

But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the hearts of young girls...

rachelDo you like narcissistic wizards, stubborn pet fire demons, and floating castles? If you do not you need to rethink your life choices. If you do, you must read Howl’s Moving Castle.

Howl’s Moving Castle is a light and fun read, but do not be fooled- there are amazing characters and plot twists as well.

The story follows Sophie, the eldest child of a hatter, who is cursed to be an old woman by an evil witch and then, discontent with life, sets off to seek her fortune. But as she frequently reminds herself, the eldest child is never fortunate, and Sophie is no exception. In her ninety year old body, she takes up residence with the infamous wizard Howl, and is forced to put up with green slime, spiders, a stubborn but friendly fire demon, a vain bathroom hog, and an evil witch who wants to rule the world.

All of the characters in this book were amazing and had flaws and depth and humor and basically everything you could want in a character. I enjoyed reading not only about their epic battles against evil but also about their (often comical) everyday lives. The most entertaining character by far is Howl, but I really cannot say anything about him because there is so much character development during the novel and it is all tied up with spoilers and…people just read the book now.

The plot is entertaining, and while it follows the basic fantasy formula good vs. evil, the “team good” characters are a little bit grayer than expected and there are so many excellent plot twists. I skipped dinner and was late to choir to finish reading it.

What else can I say? The romances involving Howl were all hilarious just because of the way Howl approaches life. The writing is excellent.

And I am off to read the second book.



Rating Report
Overall: 4.5

40 Responses to “Review: Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones”

  1. Nara

    I’ve watched the Ghibli movie adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle, and honestly I’m not too sure why I haven’t read this book yet! I definitely enjoyed the movie enough that I would be willing to give the book a go too. Have you seen the movie? Would you say the movie or the book is better?
    Nara recently posted…Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

    • Rachel

      I saw the movie after I read the book, and honestly I did not like the movie as much as the book mainly because I thought that Sophie very much became a damsel in distress, whereas in the book she holds her own pretty well. The other thing about the movie is that it is set in WW1 Europe, and the book is set in a medieval-ish, made-up, magical place. I thought that this was a very interesting change to make, and I do not have a favorite in this regard.

      So yes, I like the book better than the movie, but I think that they are really so different that it is hard to compare them. You should read the book for yourself and see which one you like better!

  2. Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity

    HOWL’S MOVING CASTLEEEEEE. That is my favourite non-Disney animated movie of all time! And pretty close to being my general favourite movie of all time. I freaking love absolutely EVERYTHING about it!

    But I have not read the book. EEP. I have heard it is really different from the movie, but still good in its own way. And your review is lovely, Rachel! So maybe I should pick this up. I think reading the original text of one of my favourite movies is probably a good idea. Especially when it sounds so awesome :D
    Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…I Will Go Down With This Ship

    • Rachel

      Definitely read the book! But try to think of it as an entirely different story because the book and movie are VERY different and I think that if you are expecting one to “live up to” the other, you will always be disappointed.

      I read the book first, so I am slightly disgruntled with the movie, but I won’t rant to you right now. :) Basically I think people like whichever they read/watched first better.

  3. Cat

    I want to read this one so badly! I loved the movie a lot and I have a feeling I’ll love the book as much, if not more. can’t wait to get around it. lovely review Rachel :D

    • Rachel

      Read the book for sure! But read it with the knowledge that it is VERY different from the movie. On the positive side, this means the plot will not be spoiled for you because they have very different plots! Also I liked the book better, so, there’s that, too.

    • Rachel

      Oh, you had me so excited for a moment… but then I read that you had not even heard of the book. Oh well. Why is it that I am the only one that heard of the book before the movie?

      Anyways, read/watch both and see which one you like better!

    • Rachel

      Heh, the book is way funnier, since the movie cut out the bits about how drunk Howl gets, probably for the PG ratings. Also, as I’ve told everyone else, the book is great, but it is really different from the movie, so approach it with an open mind.

  4. Marisabel

    Oh! Ever since the movie I was wondering if there was a book. Later on I found it but never really decided to read it because of the movie. Thinking it might let me down. But I will give it a try!
    Marisabel recently posted…2015 Reading Challenge

    • Rachel

      The book is REALLY different from the movie. So maybe just think of them as totally separate entities. Do read it though. It is not a life decision you will regret.

      Also, sorry to anyone actually reading all of the comments, because I am officially a broken record.

  5. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I’ve seen the movie and LOVED IT. I named one of my stuffed animals “Cal” haha My coblogger loves the book, and now I’ve read your review, so I think the universe is trying ro tell me something. Awesome review, Rachel. Thanks for putting this on my radar.

    • Rachel

      Haha, I swear if I ever acquire a grumpy, orange cat, I will name it Calcifer without second thought. Also, read the book. (*Whispers threateningly* it’s better than the movie)

      No but they are very different and you should definitely give the book a try.

    • Rachel

      This is not a romance novel. I mean, yes, there are romances, but they are not *romances*(insert imaginary italics). It’s just Howl screwing with people’s heads.

    • Rachel

      YAY YAY YAY Someone who has actually read the book so I don’t have to give my spiel about the movie being different from the book. I found the movie a bit sexist, but I did like both the movie and the book fairly well. I just liked the book better. Well, I’m glad you liked too!

  6. Samantha

    I adore this book! Both the book and anime adaptation hold special places in my heart even if their tones are completely different. :D

    • Rachel

      Yay again! A person like me who heard of the book first! You are the best!
      Sorry, I am exhibiting extreme favoritism. Shame.

    • Rachel

      Glad you like it! I have seen the movie and I thought that it was fine, but I didn’t like what they did with the characters very much. The movie smoothed out a lot of Howl’s faults and made Sophie much less independent, which I disliked.

    • Rachel

      You should definitely read it! It is a very good book. Also, read the book before you watch the movie.

    • Rachel

      Sounds like a good idea! Honestly, it’s the sort of book that I would reread even knowing what happens just because I like the characters and the way it is written.

  7. Renee Bookboyfriends

    You know what? Maggie Stiefvater recommended Dianna Wynne Jones on a video she did once that I found yesterday and I think I would really like to read some of her books! This is said video:
    I have seen the movie of Howl’s Moving Castle, but I didn’t know it was a book so I can’t really enforce my read-the-book-before-I-see-the-movie policy with this one. BUT IT ALL SOUNDS SO EXCITING!!! I love fantasy!!! ^_^

    *adds to goodreads*
    Renee Bookboyfriends recently posted…four colours → red

    • Rachel

      Thanks for the link! Yeah, Diana Wynne Jones is really great because she wrote a bajillion books and they are generally all very good. I kind of have a habit of reading a whole one of her books on Friday nights when more socially adept people are out partying and such.

      The book is so different from the movie that I do not think that rule even applies!

    • Rachel

      Yeah, this cover is nice… I never actually seen it before though since I read the book on kindle. You should definitely read it and don’t worry about being spoiled for the ending by the movie because it is totally different!

    • Rachel

      Ha, I actually read all three a few months ago, and I really did not like the second as much as the first. the third was pretty good, but not amazing. That said, my brother did like the second as much as he liked the first, so maybe it is a matter of opinion. Each book follows a different set of main characters plus Howl and Sophie as side characters, and I really didn’t feel like the characters or plot lived up to the high standards I usually have for Diana Wynne Jones’ books.

  8. Lina

    I’ve been considering reading the book every since watching the movie! Hayao Miyazaki is a genius, but I also really want to see where the story came from. I’m really excited to read it now!!! Question: Have you seen the movie? Judging by your gif, I’d say yes, but I need to know!
    Lina recently posted…Undressing Books…

    • Rachel

      Yep, I have watched the movie. I did not like it as much as the book, but they are such different storylines that they are not really that comparable. The great thing about this is that the movie doesn’t really spoil the book because the villains and plot are different and everything. So definitely give the book a try!

  9. Romi Foster

    Hi Rachel! Nice to meet you!
    Ah! A fellow fan of this series! I really loved your review and am so glad the book really spoke to you- it’s one of my all time favourites, Howl is such a fantastic character, and the film, too, is just splendid. The rest of the books don’t actually focus on the members of the castle, but they make little cameos which, even though the books in themselves are fantastic, make it all worthwhile. xx
    Romi Foster recently posted…Rookie Yearbook Three (Edited)by Tavi Gevinson…

    • Rachel

      Yeah, while I did like the second and third books, I had a lot of problems with them, particularly the second one. There should be a review of that here in a few weeks, and you can see in detail exactly what I found wrong with it in a (hopefully) entertaining way.

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