Review: Castle in the Air– Diana Wynne Jones

March 10, 2015 Review 13 ★★★½

Review: Castle in the Air– Diana Wynne Jones
Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Pages: 285
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.


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.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.7

13 Responses to “Review: Castle in the Air– Diana Wynne Jones”

  1. Joy // Joyousreads

    Ha. I have the tendency to do this too. Most of the time, it’s the cover that gets me. I’ve never read Howl’s Moving Castle, so I don’t know much about this author’s work. I’m not a fan of cosmetic prose either. Sometimes, a reader can tell how hard the book is trying to be something it’s not.
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…[502]: Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks

    • Rachel

      I have not had a good time with sequels recently. There was this, and then there was the Monstrumologist sequel (don’t read it, it’s paced poorly and unoriginal) and so on. Yeah, the prose was definitely annoying, but I think really the thing that the book was trying to be that it wasn’t was a way to put the popular Howl characters into another book, which didn’t work well. As much as I love Howl, Sophie and Calcifer, their story is kind of over.

    • Rachel

      Fair warning, this world wasn’t as interesting as the world of the first book. That said, it was still interesting, as long as you ignore the frivolous speech and the names (flower-in-the night = GAG)

  2. Mallory @ The Leaning Tower of Tomes

    I absolutely loved Howl’s Moving Castle — it’s one of my favorite books ever. While I’ve always known there was a sequel, I’ve never had a big inkling to pick it up. I tend to compare authors’ works, too, and I guess I just intuited that Castle in the Air probably wouldn’t be as great as Howl’s Moving Castle. Still glad to hear that it’s a perfectly good book, if a bit predictable, but I still think I’ll pass on it just so I won’t be disappointed in the series.
    Mallory @ The Leaning Tower of Tomes recently posted…Review — How to Fly with Broken Wings by Jane Elson

    • Rachel

      Yeah, if I could do it over, I would have rather spent my time rereading Howl’s Moving Castle that reading Castle in the Air. Not to say it is a bad book, but Howl’s Moving Castle is so much better.

    • Rachel

      I don’t know if I would call it very well done (the stupid speech patterns made me want to slam my head into a wall, and I say this with utter sincerity, as if I was not on an airplane, I probably would have done exactly that) but yeah overall I guess it was a good read.

    • Rachel

      Yeah, I totally get it. I basically say that whenever I read a review about a John Green-esque contemporary. (those are the books I almost never touch)

    • Rachel

      I don’t really have a problem with books that aren’t direct sequels (Ok, maybe some bitterness there, but none that I want to admit) but I do have a problem with sequels that do not live up to their predecessor. My brother is a weird little high fantasy addict, but I can never predict which high fantasy books he will like. It is confusing.

  3. Romi

    I went into this not knowing it wasn’t a true sequel, too, and though I did feel niggles of disappointment in not having another book full of Howl and Sophie and Cal, I still enjoyed it. True, it is slower and drags and compared to the first and the third books, it would be my least favourite, but I still enjoy it and when I reread the series, I always include it. Personally I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it as much, if it hadn’t been part of this series, but I probably wouldn’t have heard of it or read it, if that were the case.
    I’m sorry that overall it wasn’t fantastic for you, but glad it still ended up being enjoyable! I’m hoping you’ll post a review of the final book, too! Xx
    Romi recently posted…A Feature of Pictures (and books!) No. 9

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