This book is nothing short of magical. The story follows a woman named Sophie. She gets turned into an old woman when she upsets the nasty Witch of the Waste. To break the curse, she must become allies with the Wizard Howl. Their adventure is so delightful and quite unpredictable and unforgettable. This book is an excellent read!
This has to be the best work of Diana Wynne Jones. I've read four of her other books, but this one has to be my favorite. It has twisting plots and creative ideas and themes. Once you start reading it's hard to put the book down.
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.
I wanted to read it after watching the magnificent but confusing Hayao Miyazaki animated film. It was very interesting, but very different and just as confusing!
This is a very sweet, very funny book, with excellent characters and swift plotting. The first time I read it I'm afraid it suffered in my eyes from not matching the magic Miyazaki imbued the movie with, but I will admit, much as I love the movie, the book makes a lot more sense. On re-reading, as I mentally replaced many of Jones' descriptive passages with my memories of Miyazaki's film, I found myself actually loving the book. If it has one major flaw, it is that it ends rather too abruptly -- but that is allowable in a YA novel, and all the loose ends are nicely tied up. Great fun.