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Review: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

in a sentence or so: Sophie, the eldest of three girls, is transformed into an old lady by the Witch of the Waste. while out and about trying to figure out what to do about this predicament, she comes upon the wizard Howl's castle. he has a reputation for eating the souls of young girls, which isn't a big deal to her now that she's an old biddy. after moving in to the castle, however, Sophie finds her fate is more intertwined with the wizard's than she could have possibly known.

Sophie Hatter is the stereotypical oldest child - responsible, expert at breaking up fights between her two sisters, and the natural choice as the apprentice for the family hat business when her dad dies and leaves the business to her stepmother.  it turns out that Sophie has quite a knack for the hat business, and her responsibilities increase as the popularity of her unique hats increases.

Sophie has heard rumors of the Witch of the Waste roaming around her town, but wizards and witches aren't anything unusual for Sophie.  her sister was sent as a magical apprentice, and who hasn't heard the stories of the wizard Howl and his devouring of girl's souls? this knowledge, however, was not enough to prevent Sophie from getting quite a nasty spell placed on her after she unknowingly offended the witch. Sophie, in addition to being an old lady now, has a touch of cabin fever from the excessive hours in the hat shop and decides to stretch her geriatric limbs. it is on this stroll she forces her way into Howl's moving castle.

Sophie meets Michael, the apprentice of Howl, and he reluctantly lets her stay and warm herself by the fire and rest a bit. no ordinary fire greets Sophie, but rather a fire demon by the name of Calcipher. Calcipher is in an agreement with Howl that he immediately asks Sophie's help breaking so he can gain his freedom. she's not so sure about all this magical business, and she's especially not sure of Howl - who turns out to be an even greater handful than she anticipated. she talks her way into staying in the castle by cleaning and helping with some mending of clothes here and there.  Sophie soon finds her place in the castle, but also finds that her fate is tied into Howl and the Witch of the Waste.

this was just meh for me. the plot alternated between cleverly revealed and plopped in your lap. the mythology was obviously thought out, but the way it was translated to the reader was not consistent.  Sophie alternated between empowered and thoughtful with immature and annoying.  i liked the overall idea of the story, the world Jones created, and the idea of the characters...but it just fell flat for the most part. there were some twists or plot points that gave the read some significant bumps on the interest scale, but that definitely ebbed and flowed with clunky parts.

fave quote: "'Dead?' said Sophie. She had a silly impulse to add, But she was alive an hour ago! And she stopped herself, because death is like that; people are alive until they die." (pg 253)

fix er up: some consistency with Sophie's character and the plot would have made a HUGE difference.

title: Howl's Moving Castle
author: Diana Wynne Jones
genre: Fantasy

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. sad day. i thought this would be better.

  2. me too. but it looks like there are more that follow this tale, so perhaps they get better?

    i liked the idea of this so much, but just wasn't sold.


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