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Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, Bk 1)
Howl's Moving Castle - Howl's Moving Castle, Bk 1
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter. — After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the ...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780064410342
ISBN-10: 006441034X
Publication Date: 8/1/2001
Pages: 336
Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.

4.4 stars, based on 169 ratings
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 26
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, Bk 1) on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
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!
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 3
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.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, Bk 1) on + 329 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
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.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, Bk 1) on + 76 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
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!
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, Bk 1) on + 185 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
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.
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reviewed Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, Bk 1) on + 33 more book reviews
I have yet to read a book I did not like from this author. I found her in a bookstore under a section titled "If You Love Harry Potter Then You'll Love..." and it couldn't have been more right! The story itself is beautifully unique along with the world it takes place in. You will not be disappointed and unable to put this down!
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, Bk 1) on + 2527 more book reviews
I have had this book to read forever and was so excited to finally get around to reading it. I watched the movie a long time ago and enjoyed it, but wanted more depth to that interesting story. This was a well done fantasy book, that had an old time fairy tale feel to it. My main complaint that the ending was a bit rushed. There are two sequels to this book: Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways.

I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was very well done. The narrator has an English accent which fits this fairy tale type of story perfectly and did a wonderful job with the character voices.

Sophie is the eldest of three children in a hat-makers shop. As such, she feels that she is destine to lead a boring and uneventful life. Things change when she runs afoul of the Witch of the Waste while selling the Witch a hat. The Witch turns Sophie into an old woman. Sophie leave the hat shop and journeys to Howls Castle in hope that he can break the spell on her and return her to her youthful self.

This was a well done children's book with a fairy tale feel to it. The world is a typical olden time fantasy world with Kings and magic and castles. I loved the idea of Howls floating castle and the Wicked Witch of the west. This is a magical story full of lessons on life, love, and happiness.

The characters did leave a bit to be desired for me though. Sophies personality matches that of a cranky old woman perfectly, even before she is a cranky old woman. I think that is part of the irony in her being turned into a cranky old woman. I didnt really enjoy her all that much. The huge decision she makes to go Howls castle she blames on being in shock from the transformation and to be honest she doesnt do much but be incredibly stubborn for large portions of the book. She also is very caustic and rude to Howl throughout the whole book. She never lets him get a word in edgewise and never lets him actually explain anything. She continually calls Howl a slitherer-outer, which seems hypocritical to me since Sophie is constantly trying the slither out of her own live and out of making any decisions.

I like Howls character better but he was still hard to engage with. Howl is a first rate womanizer and (Sophie is right, he is a slitherer-outer) tries to get out of having any responsibilities at all. He pretends to be mysterious and hard-hearted but it is extremely apparent that he is not any of those things. He was a very stereotypical bachelor type character (he has a messy house, eat poorly, and is always after women).

The best character of the bunch is Calcifier, the fire demon that lives in Howls fireplace. He is much more fascinating than either Sophie or Howl, and I would have liked to read more about him.

Sophies sisters are also delightful characters. They are full of mischief and add more life to the story than Sophie ever does. I especially enjoyed Sophies sisters magic teacher, she was a funny and engaging character.

Behind all of the Sophie/Howl disagreements there is a larger part to the plot. The King wants Howl to rescue his brother from the Witch of the Waste, of course HOwl is doing his best not to get involved. This part of the story was largely in the background. To be honest this portion of the story isnt really dealt with until very late in the book. The way it wraps up is creative and interesting, but also very rushed and a bit confusing. This would have been better if Jones had taken a bit more time to explain and wrap up the mystery behind the Witch of the Waste and the Kings brother.

So to be honest, while I enjoyed this cute little fairy tale story, it didnt awe me or blow me away. The characters left something to be desired, the pacing was slow in the beginning and rushed at the ending, also things get a bit confusing at the end and could have used some better explanation.

In addition to the above there are some mysteries around the other world Howl goes to that are never well explained. The romance between Howl and Sophie (if you can even call it that) felt forced, awkward, and rushed as well.

Overall this was a decent fairy tale like story. I enjoyed the world and Howls magical castle and the whimsical tone to the story. I also enjoyed Calcifer the fire demon and his sharp wit. I thought Howl and Sophie were probably the least interesting characters in the book. I also thought the pacing was off and that there were a lot of things left unanswered. After writing this review I guess I felt a bit let down by this book, my expectations were really high thats kind of my own fault. I most likely will not be reading the sequels to this book. There are just too many other wonderful middle grade fantasy stories out there to read.