I finally understand why people love this author so much. Howl’s Moving Castle is so fun to read, a fairy tale that’s not only for kids, a story that warmed my heart. And how timely to have read it now so that I can review it for Diana Wynne Jones March organised by We Be Reading!
The story takes place in a magical world where pretty much anything is possible. Sophie, the eldest of three daughters and therefore destined for absolutely nothing (the eldest is always destined to fail), doesn’t have any expectations for her life. Until the Witch of the Waste visits her hat shop and turns her into an old woman. Now, free from rules and expectations, Sophie can go on an adventure of her very own. This leads her to Howl and his moving castle, where she makes a deal with Howl’s fire demon and ends up staying. While trying to break the witch’s spell she discovers more than she could have imagined.
What I loved most about Sophie is the change that happened in her when the witch made her old. She had always followed the rules and didn’t expect anything more than what she was entitled to, which in her world meant nothing. But then, when her whole world was taken away with that spell, she didn’t break down or despair, she got on with it and just did whatever she wanted, not caring who it pleased or displeased. It’s a great idea to put in a story, the ridiculousness of following expectations when you’re clearly capable of so much more. And the idea that when you grow up you’ll look at things very differently.
“It was odd. As a girl, Sophie would have shrivelled with embarrassment at the way she was behaving. As an old woman, she did not mind what she did or said.”
I admit that I loved Howl… I think I could have been one of those enamoured girls they talk about at the beginning of the book.
I also really liked the story. Some of it was predictable, sure, but it was still enchanting enough to hold my interest. And I loved the fairy-tale feel of the book, but without any of the sugary, almost forced sweetness you sometimes see in such stories. It felt like a fairy tale, like a crazy world that could never exist, and yet it felt real somehow, too.
It was comforting to spend time in the world Diana Wynne Jones built, and I would like to go back again. I understand that there are two sequels to this book, and I know that there is a famous movie.
Have you read/watched them? Should I bother?