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2022 Book Review Book Reviews Fantasy

Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Synopsis:

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle.

To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl’s castle?

Review:

Looking for a whimsical, unstressful, and quick read? Look this way: Howl’s Moving Castle checks all the boxes. 

As someone who read this novel because of the movie, I can easily say this novel outshines all expectations. After reading Howl’s Moving Castle and thinking back on the movie adaptation, I almost feel like the movie scammed its viewers out of colorful characters and stories (which is saying a lot since the characters are already colorful in the movie). 

This novel was full of unique characters that were portrayed amazingly and while there is one big problem that our main character Sophie has to solve, I would dare say there are often little “side quests” that make this book even more charming. The main character’s nature almost gave this novel a slice-of-life feel. There was a main problem that she had to overcome, but she often took things day by day and just faced whatever problem was currently staring her in the face, hence where the side quests come from. 

Whether it’s breaking a random fire demon’s contract or trying to make up little spells for customers while the real wizards were out, our main character always takes blows so calmly that what would’ve been a big dramatic and stressful trope in another novel becomes a quirky instance of another day in the life for our protagonist Sophie Hatter. 

The further into this novel you get, the more things get revealed. Howl slowly reveals more and more of himself, Calicfer warms up to Sophie, and even Sophie’s character has some pretty big reveals. The pacing of these reveals was perfect to the point where you were never confused while reading because you didn’t have the full picture, and you were never bored because it took a while to understand a certain plot. Each reveal added more depth to the story and improved the overall experience of the read.

Packed with quirky and lovable characters, an engaging story, and a feeling that’s like a warm hug, Howl’s Moving Castle is a whimsical read that fantasy and Studio Ghibli fans should read.

Let’s Talk:
  • Have you read Howl’s Moving Castle?
  • Have you seen the movie?
    • Which do you prefer?
  • Whimsical fantasy recs?

3 replies on “Howl’s Moving Castle”

I really recommend the movie. It’s pretty different from the book but it is still very enjoyable.

I was just looking for the second book in the trilogy! I’m hoping it is as good as the first.

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