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Diana Wynne Jones – Howl’s Moving Castle

June 12, 2008

77. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)

Read By: John Sessions
Length: 3h 21m (212 pages)

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy

Started: 11 June 2008
Finished: 12 June 2008

Summary: Sophie Hatter, eldest of three, thinks that she is doomed to a life of tedium, working in her family’s shop. However, when the notorious Witch of the Waste places a curse on Sophie – to remove “competition”, she says – that turns Sophie into an old lady, Sophie is thrust into a world of adventure she’d barely dreamed of. She flees to the Wizard Howl – a wizard who lives on the edge of town and is rumored to eat the hearts of pretty young girls. Howl’s fire demon, Calcifer, agrees to help lift Sophie’s spell if she will in turn help to release him from the contract that binds him to Howl. But Howl is not the evil magician that rumors make him out to be; he is actually more of a womanizer and a coward, and he too is laboring under a curse of the Witch of the Waste – a curse that is slowly coming true.

Review: While in general I appreciate a fast-reading book, there’s a limit to where stuff is happening too fast to keep up with, and Howl’s Moving Castle was pushing that limit. It’s got a likable set of characters, lots of action, and plenty of imagination, but I wish it had been longer, so that the approximately seventeen million story threads could have been developed more fully. Instead, it seemed like I was getting smacked from all sides with hints and love triangles and mistaken identities and curses and clues, and none of them had a chance to settle before the story had moved on. Even so, it was funny, whimsical, had a host of memorable characters, and an ending that did its best to tie all of the various threads together; I just felt like there was too much going on for me to properly appreciate each part. Now I need to go back and re-watch the movie… it’s been so long since I’ve seen it that all I remembered was the door that led to multiple places and the hopping scarecrow. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: A sweet, fun little fantasy that is probably most likely to appeal to younger readers; I enjoyed it but just wished it had paused to take a breath or two.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

First Line: In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. thekoolaidmom permalink
    June 18, 2008 9:24 pm

    I never knew this was a book. My youngest daughter loves this movie, along with the rest of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies. I’ve never seen it, so when I read about it in one of your LT posts I ran over to BookMooch and wishlisted it.

    Are there any illustrations in it?

  2. June 18, 2008 9:29 pm

    I listened to the audiobook, so I can’t say for sure, but using Amazon’s look inside feature, it doesn’t seem like there are any illustrations (or at least not in the first chapter.)

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