Release Date: March 5th 2009
Series: Howl's Moving Castle #2
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Young Adult
"I never said my wishers were supposed to do any good," said the genie. "In fact, I swore that they would always do as much harm as possible."
By day Adbullah is a humble carpet merchant, yet in his dreams he is a prince. But his dreams start to come true when he meets the lovely Flower-in-the-Night.
When a hideous djinn carries Flower off into the sky, Adbullah is determined to rescue her - if he can find her, and if he can avoid all the ferocious villains who seem to be after him. But how can he possibly succeed, with only a bad-tempered genie and an unreliable magic carpet to help him?
So when I started reading Castle in the Air, I was expecting a sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle. To my surprise, this book was not so much a sequel as it was a completely different story that happens to take place in the same world with some of the same characters.
MORAL OF THE STORY: READ THE DESCRIPTION BEFORE YOU BUY RANDOM THINGS ON THE INTERNET.
Having read both this and the third book in the “series” I will say right now that if you did not absolutely love Howl’s Moving Castle, your time would be better spent reading the third book, and while it takes place a couple years after Castle in the Air, you will not be missing any crucial information. I personally thought that it was a much better book.
As is (more than) slightly obvious by this point, I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as I enjoyed Howl’s Moving Castle. I realize it is a bit unfair to compare all of an author’s books to what is generally regarded as her most famous and/or best book, but I am doing it anyways. Sorry. I cannot help it. *
*There are going to be a lot of apologies in this review. You can read them as insults instead if it would entertain you more. I tried it and it works pretty well.
Castle in the Air follows a young rug merchant named Abdullah as he sets out on an adventure to rescue the daughter of the sultan, Flower in the Night, from princess thieves. A major element of this book is the grotesquely flowery speech (I seriously cannot think of another way to describe it, I am sorry**!) While it was humorous for the first third of the book, it got a bit old by the end.
**For the pun, not the description. Also the apology.
The other thing that bothered me was the characters. I did not find them nearly as multi-dimensional or interesting as the characters of the first book. While Howl, Sophie, and Calcifer are indeed in Castle in the Air, they are… not, really. (I know this makes absolutely no sense, but I promise you it will by the end of the book, or likely before then…)
…Which brings me to my last complaint. (I swear, really it is) The plot twists were VERY predictable, to the point that it figured things out 150 pages before they were revealed. I do not mind; no, in fact I enjoy when authors create a puzzle of sorts so I figure things out on my own right before they are revealed, but this was so glaringly obvious, it was a bit upsetting. I suppose it could have been intentional, but I doubt it.
I realize my review up to this point makes this book sound terrible, and I am sorry*** if I have scared you off, because it really wasn’t. I didn’t abandon it, and it really was a perfectly fine book. It just did not live up to my expectations. My ten year old brother read this series and says that he liked Castle in the Air a lot, so there is probably personal preference involved. He says that he did not predict all of the plot twists ahead of time. I am assuming that is because he is a ten year old. So basically what I am trying to say is that if you are a younger reader, you may enjoy this book more than I did.
***Alright, Rachel is done apologizing, you can open your eyes now. It is over.
I am having a terribly difficult time rating Castle in the Air because I think that if I had picked this up out of nowhere I would have enjoyed it much more than I did having read Howl’s Moving Castle right before. So yes, I know that my rating does not match up at all with my critical review. I intended it to be that way.