Name: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Genre: YA, Supernatural
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I watched Howl’s Moving Castle with a friend a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with it, so you can imagine how excited I was to find out it was based on a book! Technically, it was written for a younger audience, but the story is so universally entertaining that people of every age can enjoy it.
Howl’s Moving Castle revolves around Sophie, the eldest daughter of a hat maker. She has a somewhat pessimistic view on life and doesn’t seem like an overall happy person. The very first sentence of the book shows why:
“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. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.”
Unfortunately, this proves to be correct. Sophie’s father dies, leaving the shop in the hands of her step-mother, who then forces the younger sisters out into apprenticeships. Sophie is left behind to tend the business and create the hats from scratch. Even more unfortunate for Sophie, one of her customers complains about their quality, which, of course, irritates Sophie. The woman claims to be the Witch of the Waste, or the center of some terrifying rumors floating around Ingary.
The Witch casts a spell on Sophie, turning her into an old woman:
Sophie calmly left the shop and hobbled away from her hometown, intent on never returning. Eventually, she comes to realize that she must rely on a Wizard to help her–a mysterious man named Howl. In her confused state, she makes promises with fire demons and forces her way into a castle with legs:
Sophie is swept up into Howl’s chaotic life and becomes a kind of housekeeper in the castle. She’s lost any hope of regaining her youth, but Howl may have other ideas.
I honestly have a hard time sympathizing with Sophie. When you’re suddenly turned into an old woman, how is your first thought to just up and leave, without any thought of where you’re going? And then you break into someone’s house and give them attitude when they try to kick you out? What?
Other than Sophie’s weird personality, I honestly really liked this book/movie. It’s different and far-fetched, but that’s what makes it magical.