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Jones' Howl's Moving Castle

Novel by Dianna Wynne Jones

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A Delightful Tale of Magic

  • Apr 22, 2009
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When I recently picked up Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones, I was actually rereading it.  I first read it a couple years ago, wanting to read the book before I saw Miyazaki's movie. Back then, I was of the opinion that this was one of the rare instances where the movie was actually better than the book. Which is not to say the book is bad--far from it, it's quite good. But it also requires careful paying attention to details or, if you're like me and get so lost in a story that you tend to speed through it, a bit of re-reading.

What I found: it was much better the second time through. Part of this is because after watching the movie, I had images of people and things already fixed in my mind, and no matter how they changed, I at least had a basis. Case in point: Calcifer. In the movie, he's a cute little orange ball of fire. In the book, he's "a thin blue face, very long and thin, with a thin blue nose" and curly green flames as hair. He has purple fire for his mouth, two green flames for eyebrows, and orange flame for his eyes (Wikipedia). Hard to imagine, even with the illustration on the cover, right? The movie gave me the basis for what he was and how he moved and everything. Much easier to imagine Sophie and Howl as well.

The story is fantasy, with a definite fairy-tale flavor, but it never reaches the point where it feels like a full-out fairytale, a good blend for the novel. The main characters are all very easy to keep track of and are very distinct, and in addition they are also engaging and fun to read about; Howl and Sophie play off one another perfectly and often had me giggling aloud.

However, some minor characters like Prince Justin and the Wizard Suliman are often difficult to recall who they are and what their purpose is or was. Luckily, though, they are very minor characters. It was also confusing to remember which place was which: Porthaven, Kingsbury, Market Chipping, Upper Folding; they start to blend together after a while if you don't pay careful attention.

HMC is incredibly addicting. If you like fairy tales or fantasy, I definitely recommend reading it. The writing is full of wit and the character acknowledgment of stereotypes was funny without being over-the-top or breaking the fourth wall.

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More Howl's Moving Castle (book) reviews
review by . June 16, 2010
Spoilers will be had.      First of all, if you have not read the novel and only have seen this Miyazaki movie: Forget everything you know about Howl's Moving Castle.      This book was my introduction to Diana Wynne Jones, and is still my favourite by her. Her writing style, her way of describing the happenings of the world, the rich lyrical way that she portrays, well, everything... it's amazing.      Her characters grow magnificently …
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
Cute novel.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
A very interesting story with intriguing plot twists and well-written characters.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Just as amazing as the movie, but also delightfully different.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
beautiful concepts!
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
To this day one of my favourite books.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
A very good read!
review by . September 13, 2009
Pros: A unique tale with nifty goodies     Cons: I never liked Howl     The Bottom Line: Close to five stars, but not quite - maybe I'm just picky about my books these days...     Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle has origins, and those origins are here, with the creation of Diana Wynne Jones’s book of the same title. The moment I heard the movie came from a book, I sought it out (since, oh, March? April?). I’ve …
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Ranked #552
I'm a student who breathes books. I also have an affinity for anything long and flow-y.      Outside of those, I'm a comics/graphic novel geek and enjoy drawing in various cartoon … more
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Grade 6 Up Sophie Hatter reads a great deal and soon realizes that as the eldest of three daughters she is doomed to an uninteresting future. She resigns herself to making a living as a hatter and helping her younger sisters prepare to make their fortunes. But adventure seeks her out in the shop where she sits alone, dreaming over her hats. The wicked Witch of the Waste, angered by "competition" in the area, turns her into a old woman, so she seeks refuge inside the strange moving castle of the wizard Howl. Howl, advertised by his apprentice as an eater of souls, lives a mad, frantic life trying to escape the curse the witch has placed on him, find the perfect girl of his dreams and end the contract he and his fire demon have entered. Sophie, against her best instincts and at first unaware of her own powers, falls in love. So goes this intricate, humorous and puzzling tale of fantasy and adventure which should both challenge and involve readers. Jones has created an engaging set of characters and found a new use for many of the appurtenances of fairy talesseven league boots and invisible cloaks, among others. At times, the action becomes so complex that readers may have to go back to see what actually happened, and at the end so many loose ends have to be tied up at once that it's dizzying. Yet Jones' inventiveness never fails, and her conclusion is infinitely satisfying. Sara Miller, White Plains Public Library, N.Y.
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ISBN-10: 0061478784 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780061478789 (pbk.)
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
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