Howl's Moving Castle

by Diana Wynne Jones

Hardcover, 1986

Call number




GreenWilBk (1986), Edition: 1st ed, 224 pages


Eldest of three sisters in a land where it is considered to be a misfortune, Sophie is resigned to her fate as a hat shop apprentice until a witch turns her into an old woman and she finds herself in the castle of the greatly feared wizard Howl.

User reviews

LibraryThing member atimco
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones is a much-lauded YA fantasy story that pokes gentle fun at the predictable fairytale fate of the oldest of three children. The oldest is always doomed to fail in the most spectacular ways and the middle child does scarcely better, but luck and success come
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without half-trying to the youngest. Sophie, the oldest of three daughters born to a hatter, knows that she is dogged from birth by this fate. When their father dies and Lettie and Martha are sent away to promising apprenticeships, Sophie stays in the shop trimming hats for her young stepmother. But even in this humble and retired life, an eldest daughter is not safe. The wicked Witch of the Waste, mistaking Sophie for her sister, curses her with immediate old age. Or... is it a curse?

Thus changed, Sophie flees the town and installs herself as a cleaning woman for Wizard Howl, whose moving castle is an ominous sight on the horizon. Howl is known for eating the hearts of young girls, and Sophie is determined to stop him. But first she must figure out the contract binding Howl's fire demon Calcifer, who promises to break her spell if she can break his. Not that fire demons can be trusted, of course.

I was somewhat underwhelmed by this story. I'd heard nothing but praise for it and my expectations were pretty high. But the romance is a bit too predictable. The story drags at times; in retrospect I can see that Jones is giving the reader clues all throughout the slow sections, but they're still slow. And lot of the clues aren't relevant at the end. I also didn't care for Howl's predatory advances toward young girls... disturbing, to say the least. And he is never held accountable for what he did.

Yes, Jones is a skilled writer. Yes, the characters are quirky and memorable. Yes, the setting and magic are not cut-outs from the generic medieval fantasy world of so many stories. It's the same with Jones's Dalemark Quartet which I've read twice; I can appreciate all the elements that make the books technically excellent — a creative fantasy world, well-drawn characters, a smooth prose style — but somehow I just can't warm to them. There is a disconnect there, and it's probably on my side as Jones's work is beloved by most other fantasy fans I know.

It was fun to see where Megan Whalen Turner pulled the line "What a lie that was" that she uses in The King of Attolia. And I don't mean to put others off the book; if you're anything like the rest of the fantasy-reading population, you'll probably really like it. Overall, I found it diverting but not outstanding; definitely overhyped.
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LibraryThing member ed.pendragon
At first sight it might seem strange that of all Diana Wynne Jones' books (a) this should be chosen to make a film of, and (b) perhaps because of (a) this should be one of her best known titles. Why does this story, which she notes was inspired by a chance rquest by a young fan for a story about a
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castle that moves, strike such a chord with not just younger readers but also adults?

Putting aside the liberties that particularly the second half of the film takes with the story, I think a key to this book's fascination is Sophie's premature ageing. Jones continues to specialise in the young adult fantasy genre despite being no spring chicken herself, and so the apparent way in which the fairytale motif of the youthful protagonist becomes seemingly permanently subverted by the sudden onset of years and the attendant aches and pains must strike a warning chord with older readers too.

You are as old as you feel, the conventional saying goes, along with the belief that youth is wasted on the young. In 'Howl's Moving Castle' these themes are developed. Sophie (whose name means Wisdom) finds her bright young mind trapped in a decrepit body (a fear many middle-aged individuals feel as old age beckons). How she deals with that, when the fairytale convention says most heroes and heroines must be robustly proactive, is that she uses her wits, her understanding and her innate skills (such as empathy) rather than mere physicality to overcome the obstacles that stand in her way. While ostensibly about Howl and his mobile dwelling, this book is really (I suspect) about DWJ as Sophie, but with the consolation of a fairytale ending. And while the animated film takes on additional themes that reflect some of its maker's obsessions, it does at least capture the perennial essence of each human being's intimations of mortality and built-in obsolescence.

A final note: like all DWJ books (and books by a great many other authors, of course!) the choice of names is often significant. I like the name of Ingary: reminiscent of Hungary, it must be a closet reference to a parallel England, pronounced Inglund. And Sophie Hatter herself, no Mad Hatter (though she must have felt she was going mad) but a Wise Hatter.
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LibraryThing member quigui
Howl's Moving Castle is one of those classics that I only discovered when the movie came along. Pity, really, because I could (should) have read it sooner. It's a brilliant story, full of adventure and humour. It is also a love story, but you don't realize it till the end.

Howl's Moving Castle is
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the story of Sophie, the eldest sister, who is destined to be the least accomplished of all, and to have a (very) dull life. So she believes. After being cursed by the Witch of the Waste, turned into an old woman, she sets off from her home and finds herself seeking shelter in the castle of the “evil” wizard Howl, known for stealing girls' hearts. And then the adventures begin.

Although the story of Howl's Moving Castle is very good, what I really love about it are the characters, that are truly wonderful.

Howl, with all his vanity and drama queen behaviour, seems quite shallow at first, but, deep inside, is a very good person and quite intriguing. And his temper tantrums are the best, with green slime oozing out of him just to spite Sophie off.

Sophie, suddenly transformed into an old lady is very vocal and nosey. It's amazing how she acted as being 90 years old, like she had lived enough to be able to complain about everything, and be entitled to boss all the “youngsters” around, yet still shows some adolescent traits, like the way she thinks that it's not fair that she looks 90 being so young, and that the Witch of the Waste which is an old hag looks young and elegant.

Calcifer, my favourite, is a fire demon, bound by a contract with Howl, in charge of moving the castle (besides providing, begrudgingly, hot water and fire for cooking). He is the one that convinces Sophie to stay, enlisting her to break his contract with Howl, while he promises to break her curse.

I read Howl's Moving Castle after seeing Miyazaki's version of the story. And although I truly love that movie, the book is indubitably better (as it always is). But as such, most of the plot was known to me, and I already knew which characters would be important. But I enjoyed it nonetheless. If at first the story seems to be exactly the same in the book and in the anime, soon there are little details in the story that enrich it, give depth to the characters (for example, the inclusion of Wales in Howl's world. Usually the appearance of “real” places into an otherwise fantasy world makes me cringe, look at the book with distaste and ponder never to pick it up again; in Howl's Moving Castle I found it fitting).

So, Howl's Moving Castle is going to be one of those books that I will never part with, reread until the pages are worn, and recommend to everyone I know.

Also at Spoilers and Nuts
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LibraryThing member lunacat
Wizard Howl's Castle has arrived at Market Chipping, skulking around the hills outside the town, and scaring the young girls into walking in pairs. After all, he eats the hearts of young girls.

Meanwhile Sophie, the eldest daughter of three and so destined to be a failure or lead a boring life,
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finds that things have got a little more complicated than she imagined, as the Witch of the Waste turns her attention onto her. Needing help, Sophie ends up in the moving castle, seeking the dreaded Howl.

This was a really fun fantasy story with layers of hilarity and humour throughout, as well as the well-realised fantasy world I have come to expect from this writer. Throw a disgruntled and moody fire demon, a nervy apprentice who is learning magic, some seven-league boots and a one-legged scarecrow into the pot and you get a fast paced and surreally funny story.

Sometimes it felt that there were perhaps too many elements within this, but then I'd get swept along into the next twists and turns of Howl's love life, or Sophie's battles to get the Castle and its inhabitants under some form of control and forget that I was slightly bewildered by what was going on.

In the end, it's discovered that no one should be taken at face value, and perhaps things aren't always as they seem, including the evil Howl himself. And if that message can be achieved with some fun and adventure along the way, who's going to complain?

A whirlwind of colour and fun in this fantasy adventure.
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LibraryThing member fengshoe
I picked up this book after viewing the movie first and to my surprise I found both the book and the movie equally good and enthralling despite the large differences.

It, like the movie, follows the character Sophie and her adventure with Howl. More lighthearted then the movie, very humorous. I
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found the characters to be well developed, even more minor ones. It is a wonderful fantasy novel with a bit of unconventional romance and interesting characters.
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LibraryThing member LJuneOsborne
I felt I had to read this book after watching Miyazaki's adaptation of the story into an animated film. Unlike most book-to-movie situations, I wouldn't say that the book is better than the movie. The stories differ so much that the movie feels like just a different adventure with the same
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characters. These are some adorable and memorable characters, too, that are all presented as slightly nicer people in the movie. But seeing this side of them in the book, frustrated with the hands they've been dealt in life, though constantly being distracted from their goals, is so much more human. Even when they are close to attaining their goals, they hesitate, with that slight sense of fear of the unknown. Their faults make them vulnerable and thus more loveable to the reader, who will find connections with their mistakes and regrets. Not that this book is entirely about the faults of the characters, but that was one of the major differences I found between the book and the movie.

The curses the main characters bear, that of Howl's, Calcifer's, and Sophie's, which I don't want to discuss in detail for fear of ruining the story for anyone who hasn't read it yet, drive the story forward in how the characters choose to deal with them. And if that isn't enough of a problem, there's the Witch of the Waste with some unknown and unfinished business with Howl. Even after watching the movie, there were plenty of parts to this book that I wasn't expecting. I'm glad I picked it up!
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LibraryThing member twilightnocturne
“Howl’s Moving Castle,” by Dianna Wynne Jones is a magical tale that takes place in the town of Market Chipping; a land where all is possible. The story begins introducing us to our main character, Sophie. As her younger sisters prepare to leave home and seek the fortunes of life, sister
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Sophie, being the eldest, is assigned to stay behind and run the family hat shop. Unfortunately for her, running a hat shop is incredibly dull; that is, until the witch of the wastes drops by. After a brief confrontation, Sophie is left feeling a bit different – a bit stiff. She soon comes to realize that an awful spell has been cast upon her; one that has turned her into an old woman. This then ignites the fire of the story as Sophie sets off on her own journey; a journey that leads her straight to the eerie castle that looms above the town – Howl’s Moving Castle.

This is one fantasy novel that I’ve been meaning to read for ages. While I never truly forgot about it, I kept putting it off. Part of my reluctance came from the fact that it appeared to be a novel directed toward much younger readers. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with young adult/children’s literature, I wasn’t convinced that it would be something I could connect to. Nevertheless, the description intrigued me, and much of the reviews were quite positive. So despite my reluctance, I picked it up and jumped in. I’ll say right now that I’m pleased that I did. “Howl’s Moving Castle” was an incredibly entertaining and fun read. Here’s why:

To start, the characters were great; so great in-fact, that it was nearly impossible to single any out as favorites. I will say, however, that Sophie was one of the most enjoyable characters I’ve read in a long time. Not only was she strong-willed and brave – but hilarious, witty, and a bit mad. She had a big heart and it really showed. Aside from Sophie, we also had the all-powerful Wizard Howl. As I was introduced to his character, I have to admit that I was actually rather surprised. For whatever reason, I expected something reminiscent of king Haggard from “The Last Unicorn;” someone depressed, mopey, unlikeable. He was quite the opposite (though prone to leaking green slime when depressed). Oh and yes, we can’t forget Calcifer, an adorable puppy-dog-like fire demon; Michael, Howl’s young apprentice; a creepy scarecrow, and the witch of the wastes. To say the least, I was really impressed with Jones’s ability to create such diverse and interesting characters.

In addition, there was also the writing. Well, what can I say? It was equally as impressive. As stated above, when I decided to begin “Howl’s Moving Castle,” I was expecting something crafted for a much younger audience. My assumption however, was quickly destroyed. After reading just a few chapters, I soon found that it was much more; and while kids could definitely get a kick out of it, nothing was dumbed down. The overall language was impressive; the pacing was perfect; the tone was amusing. Diana Wynne Jones is clearly a witty and clever author, and her style in “Howl’s Moving Castle” was both comfortable and easy to follow; yet at the same time, well-written and carefully detailed. Her words were like art, flowing from page to page; her humor had me cracking a smile through-out. This wasn’t like reading, this was like taking a journey.

Lastly, the story itself was refreshing, creative, and fun. From Sophie’s odd predicament, to Calcifer the fire demon, to magic spells and shooting stars, “Howl’s Moving Castle” was jam packed with wonder and enchantment. While reading this lovely tale, I found myself never knowing what would happen next – and with Wizard Howl in the picture (who was a very skilled wizard, mind you), anything was possible. Aside from that, things progressed swiftly, and there was never a dull or boring moment; there was a huge amount of character development, leading all the way up to the final page, and there were even a few interesting plot twists. Overall, this story was spot on, and held my interest all the way up to the end. Oh, and speaking of the ending? I absolutely loved it. I can’t imagine it being any different.

With that said, “Howl’s Moving Castle” was really impressing, and after closing the final chapter and beginning this review, I quickly came to find that coming up any sort of critique was a real challenge. For me, this is one of those novels where nothing should be changed. From the intelligent writing, to the memorable and lovely characters, to the story, and to Howl himself, I found myself completely immersed within each page. While this is indeed considered a young adult novel, and I can certainly understand why, it’s clear to me that people of all ages could enjoy the magic of this novel. If you’re looking for a really fun, well written fantasy, this could be exactly what you’re seeking. Overall, I found “Howl’s Moving Castle” to be a truly a riveting and enchanting tale; one full of wit, heart, and a whole lot of magic.
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LibraryThing member temporus
I have seen the Studio Ghibli movie of this novel, and decided to read the book. I'm quite a bit torn, because I really like each on their own merits. But there is just enough different between the two that it's so hard to decide. I can say this for certain, if you only are familiar with the movie,
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read this book. The differences are not insignificant, and I think it will allow you to get a new appreciation for the same story. Much of the movie was lifted from the books, but I think there is also a lot of the movie that is pure Ghibli. The emphasis on transformation and flight, and war, is really not in the novel. But the novel has its own machinations and variations. In a way I was happily surprised that the movie was different enough, that I didn't know everything that was coming, which is a danger of seeing a movie before you read a book. (And I suppose the opposite as well.)
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LibraryThing member stephmo
In a fantasy story involving three sisters and a step-mother, to have one sister be the natural daughter of said step mother usually implies a certain way of things. Not in the world of Howl's Moving Castle. Not only does Diana Wynne Jones point out right away that the older sisters are, in fact,
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not ugly, but an argument between the two younger sisters ends with one vowing to become wealthy by marrying a prince and the other retorting that she will become wealthy without having to resort to marrying anyone.

The clearing up of this kind of old clutter, is the thing that makes way for fantastic adventure. After all, this is a story where nothing - even Howl's infamous moving castle - is what it seems. When Sophie has found herself cursed by the Witch of the Waste, she decides her only chance for a cure is to as the Wizard Howl (despite his reputation for eating young girls hearts). Getting indebted herself by a fire demon...well, what does one expect from a fire demon?

This is a fast and clever story with plenty of room for humor and adventure. Not to mention, learning how to accept that there's more to life than simply accepting your fate. See, some things in fairy tales bear repeating. Even today.
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LibraryThing member jawalter
I enjoyed this, but at the same time, it felt like a bit much. Jones seems to have adopted an anything-and-everything approach to this story, which keeps the story moving at a good clip, but I found myself wishing she'd chosen just a few ideas and spent more time with them.

Instead, we're given
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characters who seem self-aware of their role in a fairy tale, the sudden and unexpected intrusion of the "real world", and abstract magical prophesies, but little comes of any of it. Jones' ideas are great: fallen stars as fire demons, a castle that both moves and exists in multiple places at once, a strong female character who spends most of the book trapped in the body of an old woman. Yet I found myself frustrated by how little she seems to explore them.

That's not to say that I disliked the book. On the contrary, it was exciting, charming, and compelling; I just wanted something a little different than what I got.
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LibraryThing member pwaites
It’s hard to review a book which is so closely associated with my childhood. I have clear memories of sneaking pages of Howl’s Moving Castle during mandatory 5th grade camp, desperately trying to air conditioned places to read in. I’m happy to say that even reading it years later, Howl’s
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Moving Castle is still a book worth loving.

Sophie Hatter is the oldest of three sisters, and she knows she won’t amount to much. Her youngest sister will probably go off and seek her fortune, having great adventures, but Sophie? Her future holds nothing more than hats. Then the infamous Witch of the Wastes comes into the hat shop and curses Sophie, transforming her into an old woman. In a state of shock, Sophie wanders out of the hat shop and off into the hills, where she comes across Howl’s Moving Castle. Howl is nearly as infamous as the Witch of the Waste, and Sophie’s always been told to stay away from him since he devours young women’s hearts. But Sophie’s no longer a young woman, so what does she have to be afraid of? She barges her way into Howl’s castle and makes a deal with a fire demon – if she breaks the demon’s contract with Howl, the demon will free her from the curse.

Jones’s prose is straight forward but utterly charming. Howl’s Moving Castle has something of the feel of an original fairy tale. The world of the book contains witches and wizards, seven league boots, kings and princesses, and other elements out of European fairy tales. For all that, the focus of the novel is small, centering around Sophie, Calcifer (the fire demon), Howl, and Howl’s apprentice Micheal.

The real strength of the novel lies in the characterization of Howl and Sophie. They are both likable but by no means flawless. Sophie underestimates herself for the majority of the book, and she’s got an incredibly fierce temper. Howl is vain, childish, fickle, cowardly and lazy. There’s a wonderful scene where he throws a temper tantrum about botched hair dye and Sophie shoves him fully clothed into a cold shower.

If there’s one thing that I dislike about the novel, it’s how Diana Wynne Jones always feels the need to pair everybody up at the end. It’s not a major flaw, but it’s a pattern I’ve seen in her books that annoys me.

If you’re already familiar with the animated movie, there’s still a lot to surprise you about the book. The second half of the book has an almost completely different plot than the movie, and there’s many differences of characterization. The movie sanded off a lot of Howl’s and Sophie’s rough edges, so I strongly prefer the book versions.

It was a delight to revisit this novel from my childhood, and it is a story I would recommend to anyone, of any age.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.
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LibraryThing member librarymeg
Sophie, the eldest of three sisters, works uncomplainingly in her family's hat shop and resigns herself to the fact that, as the eldest sister, she is fated to fail first and worst when the sisters seek their fortunes. Instead of facing life's challenges, which she knows will defeat her, she sits
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all day talking to the hats that she trims. Her hats are spectacularly popular, and in no time at all the Witch of the Waste finds Sophie and turns her into an old woman in order to "discourage competition." Old Sophie ends up at the door of the wizard Howl's moving castle, desperate to find a solution to her dilemma but certain that her efforts will fail. This book, which was adapted into an Academy Award nominated film by Hayao Miyazaki, is a lot of fun to read and plays with all of the traditional fairy tale elements. I found myself liking Sophie very much from the start, and hoping that she would learn to trust herself and her abilities. There are some fun little mysteries involving spells and Howl's contract with his fire demon, Calcifer, but for me the main draw was the fairy tale of the eldest sister setting out, against all odds, to seek her fortune.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Hold on to your magic hat, your wand, your broomstick and your potions and take a wild ride in the spinning, floating, swiftly moving castle with a magician who sometimes has different monikers, but always is a clever young man.

Along the way you will meet a young woman named Sophie Hatter who, like
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the magician and the castle, is changeable and once was young but now is old; you will laugh at the antics of apprentice Michael as he struggles to make sense in a swiftly turning world, and you will learn to like the "evil" Calcifer who is a fire demon.

While fantasy writing is usually not my pot of brew, I enjoyed this book. There are three sisters, one step mother, a scarecrow, a King, a Princess, a magician and his apprentice, some spells, a wicked witch of the waste and many adventures along the journey.

This is a clever book!
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LibraryThing member Herenya
I’ve fallen for Howl’s Moving Castle. Sophie Hatter is turned into an old woman by the Wicked Witch of the Waste, and goes to work as the cleaning lady for Wizard Howl (who lives in a moving castle, as one gathers from the title) in the hope that she’ll find a way to remove the spell.
If you
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had asked me when I first read it, I would have said I loved it but it wasn’t at the level of Dark Lord of Derkholm or Fire and Hemlock brilliance. Now I’m not so sure. It’s quirky, original and clever – and upon rereading it, I notice it is more complex and subtle than I first realised.
Some of its complexities are obvious - there's a moving castle whose doors open onto very different places. It also plays around with fairytale conventions about curses, people transformed under spells and general confusion concerning identities. Sophie is a young heroine who has been turned into a crotchety old woman, and while Howl is definitely handsome, he’s also vain, fickle and prone to tantrums. Other complexities stem from the story being from Sophie’s perspective… I was lulled into taking her interpretations of events at face value, and there’s a bit more going on than she realises.

I just love it. The moving castle. Calcifer (Howl’s fire demon). Michael (Howl’s teenage apprentice). The curse! But mostly I love Sophie, who finds being an old woman both limiting and liberating, and Howl, who is simultaneous more and less heartless than one is led to believe…
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LibraryThing member bell7
Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters, and as everyone knows, that is not the birth order one wants to have in a fantasy story, especially if this particular sister is the stepsister of the youngest. But this is not your typical fantasy story and Sophie is not your typical heroine. When the
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Witch of the Waste grows jealous of Sophie's magical ability and turns her into an old woman who can't tell anyone she's under a spell, Sophie leaves the hat shop to seek her fortune. She comes across the Moving Castle owned by the Wizard Howl, who - as everyone in Ingary knows - eats girls' hearts, and bullies her way on board. Calcifer, a fire demon, let her in and seems to like her alright, offering to break her spell if she will break his contract with Howl, though he can't tell her what it is either.

I usually try to keep my summaries short, but there's a lot going on in this story. Believe it or not, I only scratched the surface and didn't go beyond page 60. Part of the reason I love and reread this story is because of its complexity and having the opportunity to perhaps pick up on small clues to the plot that I overlooked the first time. The other reason is that Sophie, Howl, Calcifer, Michael (Howl's apprentice), and all the rest are fabulous characters. I love Sophie's sort of bullying magic, Howl's ridiculously vain behavior, and Michael's longsuffering. Their interactions are entertaining whether it's the first or the third time I've read the book, and even when I know exactly what's going to happen and how, I enjoy spending time with them. Howl's Moving Castle has a permanent place on my bookshelves.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
This book has been on my TBR list for quite awhile and Jones’ recent passing made it especially timely for the Dewey read-a-thon last month. Now that I’ve read it, I know I’ll be checking out more of her work.

The eldest of three daughters, 17-year-old Sophie is transformed into an old woman
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after accidently offending a witch. After that she heads off to find the infamous wizard Howl, who despite his dangerous reputation, may be able to help her.

I love that Sophie never whines and feels sorry for herself; instead she just starts working toward a solution. She’s clever and determined and not easily swayed by a pretty face. I loved her antagonistic relationship with Howl. He needed someone in his life that didn’t blinded follow his orders and Sophie could hold her own against him. My favorite character is the cranky fire demon, Calcifer. His acidic comments were wonderful.

The writing reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s style, which is a great thing. It has that wonderful blend of fairy tale and dark sense of humor. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it quite as much if it had ended differently, but I really loved how the story was resolved. Jones could have offered a very simple conclusion, but she found one that gave additional depth to her characters and deepened the reader’s love of them.
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LibraryThing member Wombat
Sophie, the eldest of three sisters, is resigned to leading a quiet life working in her step-mother's hat shop. When she is cursed by the Witch of the Waste she leaves home and seeks refuge in castle of Wizard Howl, who is rumored to eat the hearts of young girls. The plot builds slowly as Sophie
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learns the ins and outs of the magical castle and its inhabitants, puzzles through odd spells and curses and ultimately confronts the Witch of the Waste (again).

Howl was a fun read, with interesting characters, a touch of humor, and a tightly woven plot that includes plenty of surprises. This is the first time I've read anything by Diana Wynne Jones. I expect I'll be enjoying more of her books in the future. Recommendations are welcome!
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LibraryThing member LarissaBookGirl
In the land of Ingary there exists a powerful and feared wizard named Howl who is well known for his wickedness. Howl devours girls, taking their hearts. He also spends hours at a time in the bathroom. Howl is a brilliant and talented wizard who is charming and charismatic, however he is also
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messy, vain and a terrible coward. But that is to be expected from one as heartless as Howl.

As the eldest of three daughters, Sophie is domed to a life of mundane boredom, and then the Witch of the Waste appears and curses her. Forced to leave her home Sophie soon finds herself on Howl's doorstep, however, changed as she is she feels quite safe that Howl would not be interested in her heart. But then again she could be wrong.

Howl's Moving Castle is a dreamy story of magic and wonder where friendships, secrets, demons and danger follow Sophie's every move. In many ways it is a re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz with heartless Howl also searching for courage, a scarecrow looking for a brain and a lost Sophie looking for a place to call home. An intricate fairytale for all ages, but one you should pay close attention to if you are to lift the curses plaguing these colourful characters.
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LibraryThing member reannon
First I saw the movie, which I really loved. Looking at the IMDB record for the movie I noticed it was based on a book by Diana Wynne Jones and got the book and read it. it was quite good, but I think I enjoyed the movie more. There's some differences in the characters and the plot, and I
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personally liked the movie better, thought there were a couple of things in the movie I didn't understand, like why Sophie had to destroy the castle in order to save everyone.

Anyway, I liked them both enough to recommend them.
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LibraryThing member nmhale
Sophie is convinced that she is doomed to a life of uneventful conformity. This all changes when the Witch of the Waste storms into her hat shop and bewitches Sophie ... into an old woman! Her life plans askew, she sets off to the land of Ingarry to seek her fortune. Emboldened by her old age (no
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one expects anything from old people), she decides to hunt down evil wizard Howl's moving castle, to demand an accounting of his wicked ways, and suddenly her 'doom' of a boring life is left far behind.

This story is one that drags you into its world and makes you sorry to put it down. The humor, magic, and light hearted romance are fresh. Jones knows how to twist and turn the story in completely surprising directions, always leaving enough clues to keep the plot credible.

Her story is full of flawed characters, desiring to serve good purposes despite their imperfections. Sophie and Howl are quirky and quick tempered; they want to do the right thing, are a bit scared, but do it all the same. I related to them, and frequently found myself laughing at them because I was also laughing at myself. I hadn't expected nearly so much when I picked this novel up - a really wonderful story that took me completely by surprise.
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LibraryThing member Artsy_Reader
Sophie is a 17 year old girl, who is the oldest of her family. There was a saying in their town that the oldest never gets the best out of life. However, Sophie changes that. One day, the Witch of the Waste came into her hat shop. Sophie had had a long day, but tried to help the witch the best she
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could not even knowing she was the witch. However, the witch did not like any of Sophie’s hats. She placed a spell on Sophie, which made her old (about 90). Sophie knew she could not stay at her home, so she ran away. She met Turnup Head, but was afraid of him (book version). She then met Michael (Marco in the movie), Calcifer, and of course, Howl. Howl had been rumored to be a heartless and evil wizard who ate the hearts and souls of young girls. Sophie makes a deal to help Calcifer, a fire demon, break Howl’s curse so Calcifer would be free. Michael, Calcifer, and Howl accepted Sophie into their home (a moving castle) as she became the cleaning lady. Sophie has adventures with her new family and finds out that Michael was connecting her back to her own actual family. The witch, kings, prince, and other people pop up throughout the book.

There is romance, humor, adventure, jealousy, and magic throughout this book. I have read the whole trilogy and loved them all. I have always loved this story. Before I knew of the book, I would always waych the movie Howl’s Moving Castle made by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Like always, the book was different from the movie, but like art, I think the movie must be different because it was made from someone else. Hayao Miyazaki had rewritten this book and put into a graphic novel and film comic version fitting the movie. However, there is not just little parts of the book that were changed, almost everything except for the concept of Howl and Sophie had changed. In the movie, the youngest sister is cut out and they never tell what happened to Lettie. This book also describes Howl’s family. Madam Sullaman is actually a guy in the book. The biggest difference is, there is no war in the book!! The book is so much different, so I have urged other Miyazaki fans to read the book too. I had gotten this book last year. When I got it, I knew there were two others in the series, but decided to start reading. Big mistake. I had learned I should have all of the books before I begin to read. I read this book in one whole day! I could not wait for the second one, so I asked my relatives to get it to me instead of waiting weeks for special order in the store when there was one in the store at my relatives town. My grandma actually started to read the second book!! (I loved all 3 of them!) I can relate to Sophie a lot. I too am the oldest of the children. As most children who are the oldest knows that with age comes responsibility and sacrifice. Sophie sacrificed her life to work in the hat shop her father left so that her sisters could have a great life at better jobs and to be happier. Sophie, like I, didn’t really listen to the rumors about Howl, not believing that they were true. After she met Howl, she knew that the rumors were actually fake. Howl did not act like the rumors said. To me and some of my friends, this book is a modernized Beauty and the Beast story, however switched around. As I grew up, Beauty and the Beast was my favorite story of all. I have several different versions of the story whether they are books or movies.

If I had to use this in a classroom, I would have the kids make a play out of the book. I would also have them read the book then watch the movie and have them compare the two stories.
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LibraryThing member phoebesmum
This is a strong contender for my Favourite Book, Ever. It may be my Favourite Children's Book, Ever. I love it so much that I have to put the perfectly decent Miyazaki film version into a separate compartment in my head, or else I get cross. The combination of vain, selfish, cowardly, utterly,
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utterly charming (and Welsh!) wizard Howl and sensible, practical, marvellous Sophie – and Calcifer, the fire demon who keeps the castle running – is, quite simply, magical. And the supporting characters! Sophie's sisters, who calmly take on one another's identities when they end up in positions they don’t like, the domestic enchantress who never stops talking, Howl's long-suffering and non-magical sister … I must stop now, or I shall gush.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
I was thoroughly engaged by Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones which was a very readable fairytale fantasy. The setting was delightfully confusing for both the reader and the characters, and the plot was far from traditional. A lot of humor and wit went into the development of the
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characters which were interesting, and the main character, Sophie is a gem.

The story of Sophie the eldest sister of three, starts off as the girls are each set up in trades. Sophie stays in the family hat making business, while her younger sisters are sent away. One is sent to a bake shop and the other is apprenticed to learn magic. Of course these two sisters decide to switch places, and Sophie runs afoul of the witch of the wasteland and gets turned into a old woman. Sophie leaves home, takes shelter at Howl’s castle and becomes his cleaning woman. The castle is a confusing place as it is in about four different places at the same time. Depending on how a door is opened, it can be in a seaport or in the capital city, in one place it constantly moves about, while the final place appears to be modern day Wales. Sophie must resolve her own fate by solving a series of mysteries, from freeing the household fire demon, to rescuing a Prince and the King’s Magician, ensuring the happiness of her sisters, defeating the witch of the wasteland, and dealing with the difficult, irritating yet endearing wizard Howl.

This is a story that would delight both the young and the young-at-heart. Howl’s Moving Castle is a simple, warm-hearted tale with lots of magic and fun. My first time reading Diana Wynn Jones, who unfortunately passed away this year, but it certainly won’t be my last time.
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LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Yes, it really is quite fairy-tale-ish. Especially Sophie's complete acceptance of 'I'm the eldest, of course I won't win...' Silly girl. House of Many Ways has a quite different flavor - for one thing, despite the fairy-tale atmosphere, Sophie definitely does go out and try things. Not until she's
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under a spell, but still. The Welsh links are interesting...Overall, lots of fun. OK, need to read Castle in the Air now.
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LibraryThing member kaitanya64
A fun fantasy, my ten year old listener and I both enjoyed. Sophie is the eldest of three daughters, so she knows that in classic fairytale fashion, she cannot expect much in life, but her bravery and intelligence lead to adventure and success. I liked the fact that all "heros" in this story were
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flawed in some way, but still able to act heroically, and that Sophie spent much of the book as an elderly woman, subtly undermining stereotypes of the elderly. Many myths about romantic love and attraction are lightly debunked also.
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