Howl's Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne Jones

In the land of Ingary, where seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility do exist, Sophie Hatter catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste and is put under a spell. Deciding she has nothing more to lose, she makes her way to the moving castle that hovers on the hills above Market Chipping. But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the souls of young girls… There she meets Michael, Howl’s apprentice, and Calcifer the Fire Demon, with whom she agrees a pact. But Sophie isn’t the only one under a curse – her entanglements with Calcifer, Howl, and Michael, and her quest to break her curse is both gripping – and howlingly funny!
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Publication Date: April 14th, 1986
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Country: USA
ISBN: 0007299265
Original Language: English
Age Group: New Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Fairytale
Source: My bookshelf!
Buy the Book: Amazon
Lootability: The book that set off a thousand raiders!

Howl's Moving Castle was Diana Wynne Jone's way of meshing together myriad fairytale themes into a world of her very own. Over 22 years, Wynne Jones added Castle In The Air (1990) and House of Many Ways (2008) to her very own fairytale. 
Howl's Moving Castle is the story of Sophie, the seemingly unremarkable eldest of three girls (the magical fairytale number), who is apprenticed to her stepmother to work in a hat shop after her fathers death. Unfortunately for Sophie, she gets in the way of the Witch of the Waste and gets cursed - now she looks and feels like an old lady!

What I Liked: Howl's Moving Castle is a wonderful and funny contemporary fairytale that manages to hold itself up without the frippery of glowing eyes and supernaturally good looking love interests - though Howl is notoriously good looking. Wynne Jones includes many of the best aspects of fairytales; from seven-league boots to a door with four exits. Her imagination is boundless but well grounded, I didn't get that sense of being completely disconnected from my own world in order to experience Ingary.
The characters are great, especially Sophie and Calcifer. I saw the animated Studio Ghibli production with Christian Bale as Howl and Billy Crystal as Calcifer so I still hear their voices as I'm reading. It's fantastic!

What I Didn't Like: There were a lot of clues leading up to the end, but as I often do, I found it all a bit rushed. I think part of the problem is that the rest of the story develops to gradually, then all of a sudden there are three or four revelations and confrontations. 
The book that set off a thousand raiders!
For anyone who loves the book, the movie is wonderful! Think of it as an abridged version of the book. Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki have created some beautiful animated films together.


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