Book Reviews of Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
ISBN-13: 9780688062330
ISBN-10: 0688062334
Publication Date: 4/1986
Pages: 224
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating:
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 14

4.6 stars, based on 14 ratings
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

21 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Howl's Moving Castle 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 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 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 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 on + 48 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The more I re-read this book, the more I like it and the more I appreciate the tightness of the plot and the wonderful, genuine character interactions and bondings that take place throughout, sometimes so subtly that you don't realize what's going on until the third reading. "Castle in the Air" and "The House of Many Ways" don't begin to compare.

I am not a fan of witchcraft, and I'm grateful that the book doesn't go into great detail on this. The most disturbing scene in this sense is the one right near the end with a certain golem -- but the somewhat gruesome details are spoilers, and rather confusing even in the book. It's open to debate whether the magic users of this world are simply exercising natural gifts (this is strongly implied), or practicing actual witchcraft with all that involves (there are some hints to this as well, though they've been run through the usual fantasy makeover).

Still, this has grown on me to the point where it is now one of my favorite books. I can't but recommend it to anyone liking halfway sensible fantasy.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle 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.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Like many others, I saw and fell in love with the movie before I read the book, a year later. The book was absolutely wonderful. Fantastical characters, curses, and witches abound in this magical story about a single mistake that turns into the adventure of a lifetime. I cannot recommend this book enough! If you even had just a passing fancy for the movie, you'll love the book!
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Greatly enjoyed the read. Different cast and angle than most fantasy books.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 774 more book reviews
I read this after seeing the Miyazaki movie recently - which, I have to admit, made it really hard to judge the book on its own merits. The cartoon is very visual and memorable, and I couldn't help "seeing" all the characters as I read the book - even when it diverged quite drastically from Miyazaki's take on the story... and there are quite a lot of differences...
for example, in the book, there's no war going on, and no mention of all the wonderfully creative steampunk-type of technology that Miyazaki created... the magical land of Ingary bears no particular resemblance to Germany. The Witch of the Waste is actually attractive, not horrific.... Sophie herself is a natural witch, and has magical powers! And the wizard Howl is actually Howell Jenkins, from Wales!!!!!! ohmy.gif
I wasn't surprised, however, to find that Howl's apprentice is given a background (an orphan, of course) in the book (the movie gives no explanation); and that in the book, the folks of the castle do NOT adopt the senile Witch at the end (that is just way too Japanese for a British writer to have come up with...)

I have to admit, although this is a VERY good fantasy, I think that overall, I liked the movie better. The visual details and characters were just so appealing....
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 25 more book reviews
I picked up this book after seeing the movie, an anime directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and distributed by Disney (with american voice actors). The movie was good, but the book had a lot more depth (of course). I'm glad I saw the movie first, or else I would have been disappointed.

Yes, this is probably found in the "Children's Books" section, but there are quite a few confusing points and plot twists. Some of them you can see coming, but several of them you know there is a twist, but you don't expect the turn it takes.

A fun book, and pretty easy reading. If you are looking for a deep book, this is not the one. If you are looking for a book to share with your kids, this is a good choice. You'll both get something out of the book.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 22 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book! It's YA sci-fi/fantasy, and just a fun read. I would recommend it for a young child (ages 10+), and for any adult looking for a quick read that is also entertaining.

If you've seen the animated movie version, the book is even better.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 4 more book reviews
Howl's Moving Castle is a mix of magic and humor with a dash of action. It tells the story of Sophie Hatter, who is the eldest of three. This means she will be the first - and worst - to fail if she and her two sisters set out to seek their fortunes. When she displeases the Witch of the Waste and has a curse put on her, Sophie sets out to seek her fortune and meets many interesting characters; including The Wizard Howl - who is said to eat the hearts of young girls -, a fire demon, and an annoying scarecrow.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 2249 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 though....so 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.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 35 more book reviews
This is the story that inspired the Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli) film.

Magical characters: witches, wizards, talking fire demon, scarecrow, and an assortment of characters on an adventure will make you want to keep reading until the end.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle 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 on + 70 more book reviews
"In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things."

But when Sophia and her sisters get into the mix, anything can and does happen. It's a wonderful fantasy and I couldn't put it down.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 902 more book reviews
I have to admit that I was disappointed with this book. Granted, this is supposed to be a childrens book, but I felt like the author missed the mark. Jones used a writing style that was obviously intended for younger readers, but wrote a plot so ploddingly long and boring that even adults like me had a hard time staying interested.

Sophie and Howl, as the main characters, were poorly drawn, barely developed, and painfully annoying. Instead of providing a richly detailed fantasy world with interesting characters, Jones settled for a watered down narrative that was little more than a poorly fleshed-out rough draft. The action sequences (the few that there were, at least) were clunky, hard to follow, and poorly described.

I realize that many people adore this book, but I just couldn't find much to get excited about. It had the premise and potential to develop into something great, but Jones simply wasn't able to pull it off.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 115 more book reviews
Basis behind Disney's anime movie of the same name. From the back: "Sophie lived in the town of Market Chipping, which was in Ingary, a land in which anything could happen, and often did - especially when the Witch of the Waste got her dander up. Which was often.
As her young sisters set out to seek their fortunes, Sophie stayed in her father's hat shop. Which proved most unadventurous until the Witch of the Waste came in to buy a bonnet, but was not pleased. Which is why she turned Sophie into an old lady. Which was spiteful witchery.
Now Sophie must seek her own fortune. Which means striking a bargain with the lecherous Wizard Howl. Which means entering his ever-moving castle, taming a blue fire-demon, and meeting the Witch of the Waste head-on. Which was more than Sophie bargained for...
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 902 more book reviews
I have to admit that I was disappointed with this book. Granted, this is supposed to be a childrens book, but I felt like the author missed the mark. Jones used a writing style that was obviously intended for younger readers, but wrote a plot so ploddingly long and boring that even adults like me had a hard time staying interested.

Sophie and Howl, as the main characters, were poorly drawn, barely developed, and painfully annoying. Instead of providing a richly detailed fantasy world with interesting characters, Jones settled for a watered down narrative that was little more than a poorly fleshed-out rough draft. The action sequences (the few that there were, at least) were clunky, hard to follow, and poorly described.

I realize that many people adore this book, but I just couldn't find much to get excited about. It had the premise and potential to develop into something great, but Jones simply wasn't able to pull it off.
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 37 more book reviews
This book is a near perfect example of adolescent fantasy, a not to be missed modern fairy tale from the single writer closest in style to JK Rowling. If you or your children loved Harry Potter, the story of Sophie and Howell can't possibly disappoint. You owe it to your children to make sure that Wynne Jones is present in copious amounts on their bookcase.

All hyperbole aside, the only disappointing thing about this book is it's length. PLEASE check it out!
reviewed Howl's Moving Castle on + 3 more book reviews
Brilliant Story!!!

While the anime is a bit simplified it is also brilliant. It is only distributed by Disney not created by. The film was created by Japan's greatest artist/animation director, Hayao Miyazaki.

Read the book, watch the anime or vice versa.